The most challenging aspect of this planning is that we had to make staffing decisions back in March 2015 to determine personnel costs. That's right - we have do pretty much decide what we are going to spend about 6 months prior to receiving enough information to guess what our revenue will be.
The past 3 years we have lost just under a million dollars in state funding due to "proration". They have decided to pay us only a percentage of what they owe us. Each year it has been different, but in general it has been less than 90% of our entitlement. We expect there will be additional proration this year since the financial crisis in Springfield is not resolved. We have also heard additional costs may be passed down to districts (pension cost shift) or put a cap on local revenue sources (property tax freeze). While these options may make sense as a part of a total systemic funding reform at the state level, individually each would have catastrophic impacts on school districts.
As we move into the next fiscal year, we keep our eyes and ears tuned toward Springfield. The concerns I have as a citizen and superintendent are the same. Hard decisions will need to be made in order to save our beleaguered state, but a few random changes will not solve the problem. A true solution must involve comprehensive reform in many areas including government regulation, government spending, taxing structure, and school funding. Approving individual fixes without fully reforming the entire system will probably win some political points here and there, but will wreak havoc on local schools.
The Board of Education has made a number of difficult decisions in order to balance maintaining great educational opportunities for our students and cutting costs. Though times are difficult, we will continue to find additional ways to improve opportunities and cut costs. I look forward to sharing some positive details of those items over the next few weeks.