BROOKINGS – The Brookings School Board is looking for ways to readjust programs and spending due to an anticipated half million-dollar deficit for the next school year.
The Brookings School District is working with a preliminary 2020 budget of about $23.5 million, which the school board reviewed Monday.
That includes roughly $328,000 from the district’s fund balance and a $200,000 Capital Outlay fund transfer to balance out the 2020 fiscal year budget.
Some of the issues facing the Brookings School System are: not meeting its projected enrollment goal, duplicate course offerings and student-to-teacher ratios, and unequal growth among the school attendance boundaries.
In order to offset the negative revenue, Superintendent Klint Willert proposed a variety of changes that both reduced and expanded expenditures.
Willert and the school board had budgeted for a projected 50 student increase for this past year, but the growth of students did not reach that goal. This has an impact of $278,000 on the district.
Next year they’re predicting growth of 16 students.
Instead of having a reevaluation of growth done by the state demographer, as has been done in the past, Willert said they would do a “three-year rolling average,” looking at the numbers over the past three years and budget accordingly.
“There are multiple forces at play here. You can’t just say it’s that one thing,” said Willert when asked if there were any reasons for the downtick in enrollment.
The student to teacher ratio in the Brookings School System is 14.5-to-1, which, when compared to the 15-to-1 standardized ratio for state funding, creates an impact of $265,000.
Unequal ratios among Brookings schools can create issues. One teacher may be overwhelmed with a certain number of students, another teacher at a different school could potentially work more efficiently if those students transferred there, Willert said.
Willert said the school board might have to revisit rules about requiring students to go to schools within their assigned attendance boundaries. Allowing for some adjustments may allow the school district to absorb additional students without spending more money.
Other proposed money-saving measures ranged from the removal of Wi-Fi on buses to moving some Camelot Intermediate School positions to Mickelson Middle School due to a larger class moving from Camelot to Mickelson next year.
“So much is trying to be addressed simply just through attrition,” said Willert. “No individual person is losing their position.”
Willert said his ultimate goal is to have a balanced budget and eliminate the district’s structural deficit and dependence on capital outlay transfers.
The school board will likely adopt a final budget in June or July.
Contact Matthew Rhodes at [email protected]