Elmbrook School District Plans for Budget Cuts

This coming school year, the Elmbrook School District may be forced to employ several budget re allocations and deferrals due to Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 budget.

In the 2015-16 school year, Wisconsin schools will experience a loss in per pupil aid from the state government. Per pupil aid, established in 2013, provides schools additional aid outside of the revenue limit for state aid. The aid began at $75 per student enrolled in the school district and was expected to increase to $150 in the coming school years.

Walker’s proposed budget eliminates the $150 per pupil aid Wisconsin schools expected to receive in the 2015-16 school year. Walker plans to restore the aid in the next school year, increasing it to $165. Regardless, schools will still experience a loss of $135 in per pupil aid.

While Elmbrook was expecting a $75 increase in per pupil aid, they now face a $2 million deficit. In effort to balance out their budget, the school district proposed a series of reallocations and deferrals.

The district avoided cutting back on the education department in their proposed budget and focused on increasing efficiency throughout the school district. Among the many changes to be made, a list of facility maintenance projects throughout the schools will be delayed until the 2016-17 school year. Additionally, the school district plans on hiring an energy manager to implement various methods of energy efficiency improvement around the Elmbrook School District in hopes of saving funds.

The proposed budget also states that some staff members in the Elmbrook School District may be cut, including custodial staff and high school supervisors. There will be other staff cuts as well, resulting in class sizes that will match those of the middle schools.

Glen Allgaier, the school board’s Treasurer and Finance and Operations Committee Chair, says that he’s not worried about the loss of aid this year, but more the loss that the school district will face in the coming years due to inflation.

“People are upset that they cut the budget,” Allgaier said, “but there is nothing there to accommodate inflation.”

He claims that while inflation is only about one and a half percent, that still amounts to about a $1.2 million dollar shortfall from a $90 million budget. Without the government increasing aid to accommodate for inflation, he said, “that could mean zero increase in salaries and benefits for the staff.”

“We are hopeful that financial forecasts [to be released in May] will be more positive, releasing funds to provide some relief to school districts,” Allgaier said, “but that is only hypothetical at this point.”