Falls discusses 2013-14 budget plan

District details budget timeline, impacts of state biennium budget

Jan. 15, 2013

Menomonee Falls - Budget planning for the 2013-14 school year is well under way as the Menomonee Falls School District works through projected impacts of the state's biennium budget.

The School Board on Monday heard a budget forecast as the district plans for different state aid allocations, a crucial piece of the budget.

"We're going to be waiting on a lot of information from the state when we should be implementing our budget," Director of Business Services Jeff Gross said.

Gross discussed different scenarios that could play out at the state level in relation to per pupil allocations. In 2011-12, the district saw a $632 per pupil decrease. The $50 per pupil increase for the 2012-13 school year did not come close to making up this difference.

The district is planning for three different scenarios: no increase, a $100 increase and a $200 increase.

No increase to the per pupil allocation would require $2.4 million in expenditure reductions or revenue generators for the 2013-14 year. A $100 increase would require $2 million in reductions or revenue generators and a $200 increase means $1.6 million in cuts or a revenue increase, Gross said.

In addition to per pupil allocations, the district also receives equalized state aid. Since 2007-08, the district has had a 48 percent decrease in aid.

Falls likely facing deficit

Either way, the School District will plan around a deficit and the board will have hard decisions to make. The main budget goals include limiting layoffs, maintaining the depth of programming and keeping class sizes low.

"Obviously programming and class size push against one another. If we try to keep class sizes low, as we're cutting $2.4 million, in theory, you have to either reduce programming or increase class size or determine where else you're going to be able to fund that resource," Superintendent Patricia Greco said.

"This is the hardest part of the budget process," she said.

It's "a sobering part of the year" as the district tries to keep morale focused despite a lingering fear of layoffs, Greco said.

As the process continues into spring and the preliminary budget is detailed, she said the School Board will have feedback from staff, parents and students.

Layoff notices in spring

Preliminary layoffs notices will go out at the end of March or early April, with final notices going out May 15. Similar to last year, more preliminary layoff notices will be issued than actual layoffs. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, more than 70 notices went out, however, there were 5.5 full-time equivalent employee layoffs.

"We don't know how far we have to go with the layoffs until we know the final list of retirements and we don't know the governor's budget so we have to go far deeper than actual layoffs," Greco said.

As part of the process, the School District is also sending a letter to the governor and the Legislature on key points that could effect Menomonee Falls as the state makes final decisions on its budget.

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