Janesville56.7°

Milton School District gets jump on budget

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
November 25, 2011
— Faced with $1 million in potential cuts, the Milton School District is moving forward more quickly than usual on budget planning for next year.

On the heels of the Milton School Board's approval last month of a budget with a $220,000 structural deficit, Superintendent Mike Garrow says the district faces a revenue shortfall of at least $700,000.


Garrow said in the coming week he'll meet with administrators about the district's financial situation, and he's given administrators a deadline of late December to submit lists of spending priorities for the 2012-13 budget. That's about a month earlier than the district normally compiles those lists.


Garrow said he wants to jump-start budget planning to give the board and administrators more time to deal with what he calls "a long and difficult process ahead of us."


Meanwhile, the school board on Monday will review and possibly approve a tentative district budget-planning calendar.


The main reason for the looming revenue shortfall is because $500,000 in one-time federal jobs funds is running out this year, Garrow said. In addition, the $200,000 earmarked for technology funds is set to run dry.


Garrow said there's no sensible way the district can roll over its current spending plan into next year because the revenue won't be there.


"When you're looking at as much as a million dollars in cuts, you can't just roll over funds," Garrow said. "I'm not saying that's what Milton has done in the past, but that's the way it's been done in other places."


That will mean more financial belt-tightening for a school district that already had cut $1.7 million in spending last winter in response to budget cuts in Gov. Scott Walker's austerity budget. The majority of those cuts came through employee pay and benefit concessions.


Garrow said administrators and staff have yet to identify possible cuts for next school year.


"Right now it's more about establishing priorities and outlining where we're going as a district," Garrow said. He did, however, acknowledge the district is going to have to "look at the (education) delivery model and do more with less."


Before the end of this year, administrators will assemble a master list of district priorities and goals. Garrow said some major topics of discussion could include class sizes and staffing along with line-item priorities for each school and possible added "efficiencies," such as reduced mailing costs.


TIMELINE

Key dates in Milton School District budget planning include:


2011

-- Dec. 1-31: Staff will develop budget goals and projections and hold discussions. Administrators and staff will discuss the impact of proposed budget changes.


-- Dec. 12: The district business office will present its budget forecast model for 2012-17 to the school board budget committee.


2012

-- Jan. 23: Public will offer input on budget development and presentation of the 2012-13 district staffing plan.


-- March 1-31: Administrative review of budget requests and living budget document.


-- March 12: School board review of any changes to existing programs.


-- April 13: Deadline for preliminary notices for staff reduction.


-- April 23: School board decision on possible program changes.


-- June 11: Preliminary 2012-13 budget proposal.


-- Aug. 20: Budget hearing/annual meeting on proposed school budget.


-- Oct. 22: School board considers adoption of 2012-13 budget and tax levy.


Source: Milton School District proposed budget planning calendar.

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