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SUBMITTED by Kari Durham, North Rose-Wolcott Board of Education (22-Nov-2010)

The NR-W Board of Education met on Tuesday, November 16, 2010, and those present witnessed a hugely productive meeting. Of course there are items still to process. There are pieces we need to share community–wide and initiate conversations right away. We need to get the pulse of our taxpayers and alert them to what the budget preparations are yielding.

In the business administrator’s update, Bob Magin began laying the foundations for board budget work ahead. His presentation represents portions of the good, the bad and the ugly news. Here are the pieces most likely to impact the board’s immediate work (reminder, this is preliminary and the numbers are best estimates):
  1. The district currently pays 85% of the cost for health and dental insurance for most employees.

    Our 2010-2011 budgeted cost for this single obligation is $2.7 million. Our estimates at this time will require an increase of 15% for the 2011-2012 budget.

  2. The district’s overall expenditures are up.

    (Increase in Expenditures incl. Salaries, FICA, Insurance, retirement systems increases = $1,297,104)

  3. The district is losing revenue generated by State funding.

    August Reduction of state aid was $106,157. We had a reduction of STAR reimbursement of $16,533 and also the loss of ARRA funding $745,161. Total Revenue Lost: $867,851.
The latest projected budget gap calculation:
  • Increased Expenditures: $1,297,104 
  • Decrease in Revenues: $ 484,826
  • Estimated Gap: $1,781,930
As you can see there is much to consider and some to fear. Each piece has its own editorial between the lines. There is much the budget committee will grapple with. We can’t under-emphasize the need to look at each piece on its own before worrying on the bottom line. The impact of the next decisions will have rippling effects. We need to remain steadfastly focused on the students while never losing sight of the taxpayer. Ever. 

One thing we need to say out loud - is that there are items we can (& must) cut from the budget. Although as we get closer the most read headlines will scream “Teachers CUT!” – the reality is there are more items to consider. Nothing is sacred but we don’t start there! We will explore everything. Those items that superficially appear too small – are considered! It all adds up. We are not naive. While we will take time to SHOUT at the State to stop adding to the expenditure side WITHOUT dependable sources of revenue - there are pieces in the budget that are within our control and in here lies the task ahead. We are well-informed, inquisitive and forceful. After Tuesday’s meeting proper we began discussions about negotiations. Rarely have I experienced such proud moments as I did that evening. We reached consensus with ease and our conversations were respectful and our vision clear! In the face of what are terrible circumstances we understand what we WANT and how to meet the essential needs. Having a clear focus, a well-defined goal in mind will be pivotal as talks begin.

Please join us in December for our next meeting December 14th at the NRW High School.

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