Janesville53.2°

Janesville school budget nearly balanced

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
June 29, 2011
— The Janesville School Board is close to balancing its 2011-12 budget.

The wrangling, the layoffs and other cuts started in December. The latest accounting shows the district would be in the black by $115,000 for 2011-12 if nothing else changes, Superintendent Karen Schulte told the board in a memo Tuesday.


But things will change, and Schulte told the Gazette she didn't want anyone to get the idea that the district could start finding ways to spend the $115,000.


For one thing, no one knows how many students will show up in September, district Chief Financial Officer Keith Pennington told the board at its meeting Tuesday night.


The schools are monitoring 21 "hot spots," classrooms where the predicted enrollments are close to the maximum.


Having more students in those hot spots could require hiring more teachers.


The multiple hot spots are the result of a change in how the district assigned teachers to students. The staffing was much tighter, with less leeway to cover unexpected enrollment spikes, Schulte told the board.


Also, the district won't know the increase in its health insurance premiums until August, Schulte said.


Schulte in her memo urged the board to sit tight and wait, and the board apparently agreed. Its budget discussion was short, with no debate.


Pennington said his latest accounting is more precise than in the past because he has tracked most of the personnel changes—retirements, resignations and layoffs—to calculate precise changes in costs. He previously used an average to estimate the savings in teacher pay and benefits.


For example, if a veteran teacher retires and is replaced by a teacher right out of college, the district realizes a savings.


The latest list of board-approved cuts shows a savings of about $7 million in salaries and benefits from teachers and other staff. Precise numbers of the teaching and other positions that were lost in the cuts are still not available.


The list also shows about $1 million in revenues—most of that the $648,000 from the recent closing of a city tax incremental finance district. The remainder of the $10.1 million in cuts and revenues comes from cuts in budgets for textbooks, travel, office supplies and other areas.


The board also designated $3.4 million to be pulled from the fund balance, for a total of $13.5 million in cuts or revenue to balance the budget.


The 2011-12 budget year starts Friday, but school districts always have to adjust their budgets after the year begins. A public hearing on the budget has not yet been scheduled.


The board did not discuss the 2012-13 budget on Tuesday, but members are well aware that they'll be looking for yet more ways to save or for new revenues in that budget.


IN OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday night, the Janesville School Board:


-- Approved a plan that will allow Craig High School students to earn college credit from UW-Rock County by completing a high school genetics course and registering and paying for the UW-Rock genetics course.


-- Approved granting science credit for high school animal-science courses.


-- Learned that six people have applied to replace a Chinese teacher who recently resigned.


-- Learned that the district will survey students to measure how well the district is serving them. The district already surveys staff and parents.


-- Heard calls for the district to do a better job of marketing its many advantages but no specific plans to do so.


-- Accepted the retirement of Carole Francis, a Parker High School English teacher who has worked in the district for 38 years.


-- Accepted the resignations of Erin Gelhausen, a kindergarten teacher at Monroe Elementary with four years in the district; Kelli Grutz, a Marshall Middle School counselor with six years; Andrew Loizzo, a Craig High social studies teacher with three years; Amy Palecek, a Craig High psychologist with one year; Skylar Primm, a TAGOS Leadership Academy teacher with two years; Lisa Raebel, a Marshall seventh-grade teacher with 32 years; and James Sercombe, a Edison Middle School band teacher with nine years.



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