Early budget estimates show slight staff reduction

March 18, 2014

Menomonee Falls — As pieces of the puzzle start coming together, school officials are assembling the district's 2014-15 budget.

Administrators presented an update on the budget-building process Monday. At this preliminary stage, plans call for raising the property tax levy — the district's largest source of income — by 2.7 percent in the 2014-15 school year.

This year, Menomonee Falls levied $35.1 million to help fund the district's overall $47.6 million budget. Plans call for levying $36.1 million for the upcoming school year.

Because Menomonee Falls is a so-called property rich community in the eyes of the state, the district traditionally has received a smaller pool of state aid, compared to communities in other areas of Wisconsin.

State aid, the district's second largest source of income, has been falling at a progressive rate in recent years, from $15.6 million in the 2009-10 school year to the $9 million that was collected this year. In 2014-15, administrators anticipate the number dropping again, to $8 million.

District Administrator Marie Greco presented the board and community with some of the latest updates at Monday's meeting.

There are a series of additions and subtractions eyed for the 2014-15 budget as staffing, classroom programs and other services are examined.

Overall, the district is tentatively planning to trim staffing districtwide by 0.91 full-time equivalent.

Existing staffing could be cut by a 4.03 FTE rate, but new staffing proposals, accounting for a 3.12 FTE rate, would mitigate the depth of the cuts. Greco said the staff cuts could net the district $281,847 in savings. Dollar estimates for the new proposed positions were not available.

The list of staff cuts includes two FTE teaching positions at the elementary level and assorted teaching positions equating to 1.54 FTEs at the high school. Reductions also are eyed in the special education department because the number of students requiring such services is decreasing.

In an effort to comply with new state-mandated Common Core standards, the district is planning to boost specialist staffing to assist students in reading, writing and math. For example, the district is planning to add a full-time math interventionist position at the elementary level.

Capital and benefits expenses in the tentative document also have a series of trade-offs. District officials have proposed spending $1.35 million in new expenses for the 2014-15 budget and a reduction of $328,740 in existing line items.

Possible additions include allocating more money than initially anticipated at Ben Franklin Elementary School this summer so all capital projects can be completed in one year, rather than the previously announced proposal of spreading the work over two years.

The district also is proposing a series of technological upgrades, including an expansion of the 1-to-1 computer program for upper-level high school students.

Anticipated expense reductions include trims to the district's sick leave payouts and less funding toward out-of-district staff training activities.

Greco said updates on the upcoming budget will be provided on a regular basis.

"We will continue to highlight (the budget) at each meeting until it is approved by the board," she said.

According to a timeline, plans call for issuing preliminary layoff notices to affected staff members by March 31. A definitive staffing plan will be in place by May 15 when final layoff notices are issued.

The board is expected to vote on the budget in June, and refinements will be made through October as additional information — including enrollment figures — are taken into account.

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