Budget update: Possible shutdown in July and calendar decision delayed
CFO says schools face threat of school shutdown this year
Chief Financial Officer Susan Willis told the Board of Education that a shutdown in July this year is more likely than the threat of the shutdown last year. Last month, the Kansas State Supreme Court ruled that funding from the state was constitutionally inadequate and gave the Kansas Legislature a deadline of June 30 to have an adequate finance system in place. The shutdown situation is more serious this year because funding adequacy is more difficult to solve and the state’s financial shortfall continue to decline. Willis said as the deadline approaches with no funding formula in place yet, the district is starting to look at shutdown plans.
“We are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst,” Willis said.
The district estimates $8.2 million in cuts will need to be made in order to balance the budget due to estimated increases for fixed costs such as utilities, fuel and insurance. The estimated increases do not include any possible wage increases or changes to the school calendar, which would add to the total amount needed to be cut in other areas to balance the budget.
Because of the financial uncertainty, the calendar for next school year is still being studied. Changes last year to the calendar with a longer school day and shorter year helped save around $3 million. Last week, the district released survey results from staff, parents and students regarding the extended day and shortened year calendar. When faced with two options, 54% surveyed would keep the school year calendar the same for next year, but different groups had varying levels of opinions regarding the calendar. Many respondents suggested changing school start and end times.
Based on survey feedback, the district is looking at different start and end time scenarios in an effort to dismiss elementary schools earlier and hopes to have a report back to the BOE soon.
“While changing start and end times sounds very simple, it would have an impact on transportation and there are other budget considerations to making any changes,” said Superintendent John Allison.
“It’s good to wait a little while longer on a calendar decision to see what our financial situation may look like from the state. But knowing the implications of how waiting impacts our parents and our schools, we may reach a point where we’ll have to make a decision without knowing what the finance piece is,” Superintendent Allison said.
“We do know if we make a calendar change, it will have an impact on our budget,” he added.