Since November of 2015 I have been looking at the student enrollment projections in conjunction with planning the 2016-2017 budget. This has caused some stir in our community due to the alarming implications of this data and the need for our district and community to plan a successful way in which to adapt for long term success. As the superintendent I have been put into a position of trust that I take very seriously. Fiduciary trust falls on me, having responsibility of property (schools, facilities, funds, etc.) in which the public has placed its trust in my office. This trust is so much that my personal reputation and professional livelihood are dependent on public confidence and support in wise use and conservatorship.
Due to a declining enrollment I have suggested that we look into changing how our district operates. In doing so I have fallen under some criticism. Criticism comes with the job so I take no issue with that. I do want to any misunderstanding of where our district is financially and why I am looking for more efficient ways to run our district. It is based solely on the numbers seen in enrollment projections and from our draft budget. These numbers are listed below:
- The projected carry forward balance is $740,534 less than the prior year. A 24.8% decrease.
- State SEEK funds, determined by our student enrollment, decrease by $285,255.
- The district General Fund revenue will increase only by $18,378.
- Trimble County Public schools began the 2015-2016 school year with 85 fewer students than were projected. We are projected to lose 25 more students going into the 2016-2017 school year. (For every student we lose, we lose $3,981 in SEEK funding.)
- Trimble County Public Schools has been, on average, 11.7 teachers overstaffed for the past five years. Coming into the 2015-2016 school year we were 11.7 teachers overstaffed. This is prior to losing the 87 students at the beginning of the year.
- Granting our current staff with their yearly salary increase (based on years of experience) will be an increase of $132,090
- Our district spends over $130,000 per year to operate our high school, which is projected to be at only a 49.2% occupancy rate in 2016-2017.
- The General Fund is expected to decrease by $1,005,011.
Contrary to what some believe, our current financial situation is not due to:
- Money spent on athletic facilities.
- Creation of two position at the district level.
The funds used on athletic facilities are funds that can only be used on facilities. They are separate from the General Fund and can never be figured into the General Fund. As to the district level positions, our General fund expenditure is projected to be only $101,555 more in the 2016-2017.
Our current situation has progressed over time and is not anyone person or group’s fault, nor has it just suddenly occurred. The largest contributing factors are the $740,534 carry over and the $285,255 lost in SEEK funding. The worst thing we can do moving forward is to ignore the numbers and do nothing.