Janesville School District estimating $10 million shortfall

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Ted Sullivan
Saturday, December 11, 2010
— Janesville School District officials said Friday they’re estimating a nearly $10 million shortfall in next year’s budget and layoffs and program cuts are needed to save money.

Superintendent Karen Schulte said an unknown number of layoffs were certain. She said cuts to extra-curricular activities and athletics also would be considered.

“We are looking at every budget line item, looking at where we can save money and where we need to cut,” Schulte said. “There is no budget line item that we’re not looking at.”

Schulte said the district also is seeking more revenue with advertising in gyms and naming rights to buildings. She said the district is open to any ideas to create revenue.

The $9.77 million in savings or revenue needed to balance the 2011-2012 budget is based on no increase in the tax levy and the same amount of state aid, Chief Financial Officer Keith Pennington said. The amount is a starting point in a budget process that will take several months.

“This is a preliminary estimate using the best information we have. Things could change,” Pennington said. “This is step one and two of maybe 35. You have to start, you have to have a number and you have to have a plan.”

Kim Ehrhardt, director of instruction, said the school board would consider Tuesday a change regarding high school scheduling and staffing guidelines. He said the change would allow the district to increase high school class size from 18 to 24 students.

Ehrhardt said the change would likely result in fewer teachers at the high schools. He said specifics about which classes or teachers would be affected wouldn’t be known until students register for next year.

District officials said they also would review staffing needs at the elementary schools, although those considerations wouldn’t be made until later because high school students register first.

The $9.77 million shortfall includes:

-- $1.79 million received this year to help districts retain employees because of a lack of school district funding. The money was used to pay for salaries. That money will not be available next year.

-- $2.27 million the district used this year from an account set aside for emergencies and other expenses. The money was used to balance the budget. The district is not planning to use money from that account next year, although it could.

-- $3.11 million in staff salary and benefit increases from this year to next year. The increase includes raises and retirement contributions.

-- $2.6 million for an increase in the cost of health insurance. The district is estimating a 15 percent increase in health insurance costs from this year to next year.

“If you listen to health insurance news, it (cost) continues to go up,” Pennington said. “It doesn’t go down.”

Schulte said the district has never wrestled with a budget gap in this range.

The school board recently cut a high school assistant principal position because of declining high school enrollments and budget needs. The move saves about $120,000 in salary and benefits.

If you go

The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the Parker High School small auditorium, room 1145.

Last updated: 3:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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