Early school budget deficit: $1.1 million

More costs, less revenue in preliminary spending plan leaves district with challenge
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

A projected budget for the Grafton School District’s 2019-20 school year currently shows a $1.1 million deficit due to rising costs and decreasing revenues.

District Director of Business Services Topher Adams presented the projected numbers during a Finance Committee meeting Monday, Jan. 4, and said next year’s finances reveal a $740,260 increase in costs and a $342,681 decline in revenues.

“It’s based on all the conservative assumptions we are making. We’re assuming that there will be no new revenue provided in the new budget,” Adams said, noting the figures are preliminary and this is the first phase of the budget planning process. 

“Some of those assumptions I’m making are not going to come true,” he said.

Adams said he expects increases of 10% in health-insurance premiums, 5% in dental-insurance premiums, and 2.5% in faculty salaries. He said he also assumes the district’s revenue limit is going to be down more than $300,000.

Adams said the wage adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index, which is currently 2.44%. Returning teachers also receive longevity raises.

“It’s a projected budget, which blindly assumes staffing will be the same next year. We know that’s not true,” Adams said. “We’ll be going through the next steps of the budget process, which is to determine what our personnel needs are for next year.”

Other contributing factors to the deficit are increases in retirement benefit insurance that could cost about $130,000 and $42,000 for students open-enrolling in other districts. 

Adams said the district does not have more students open-enrolling outside of Grafton schools, but the cost per open-enrollment student is increasing. He said the drop in revenues projects a decrease in enrollment aid.

The district is expecting a 23-student decrease in its three-year average. 

If the financial assumptions come to fruition, Adams said, the district has a couple alternatives to remedy the deficit.

One option calls for cutting $416,637 for flexible furniture and classroom upgrades, which are currently budgeted outside the district’s $39.9 million referendum budget. 

“That wouldn’t change our programming,” Adams said.

Adams said the budget projection is based on per-pupil aid remaining flat. If per-pupil aid increased by $200, as it did the last two years, that would provide the district about $395,800 more in revenue. 

“At this point, we wait. We’ll also be finding out what the likely budget scenarios will be based on what the governor and legislature puts forth,” Adams said.

“By the time we get to October, I believe we will be able to pass a balanced budget.”

Adams said the budget will be refined on an ongoing basis as more figures firm up.

“There are a number of assumptions that go in (the projected budget), most of them are admittedly pessimistic,” he said. “These are very conservative assumptions based on potential revenue.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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