Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 12-10-2016

sequestration_federal_budget_cuts_2013With every hill there is a valley they say and that is also true in school.  It can be success of the basketball team or changes in student enrollment.  It could be the hills and valleys our cross country team dashes over.  It can also be school funding.  Right now we are looking at a deep valley in relation to school funding before us and it will affect your school.

Funding for your school is derived in two ways, state funding and local funding.  State funding is derived from a formula highly dependent upon the number of student attending a school.  In North Dakota each full time student (here 175 days) is worth about $9,646.00.  When enrollment increases state funding increases, when enrollment declines funding declines.  Each of these being felt the year after the enrollment adjustment as funding is always one year behind.  In Ellendale this year we receive $4,045,243.00 based on 354.5 kids last year.  The second type of funding is from taxation and that is derived from the levy assessed by the school board.  This year we anticipate that taxation to generate $1,605,350.00 in total funding, with $1,234,600 of that amount supporting the general operating budget.

As I mentioned earlier we are looking at a significant valley in school funding looming next year.  This valley is due in part to declining enrollment and a freeze/cut in state funding.  The declining enrollment for the district equals about 34 kids less this fall than we had last spring.  With each child worth approximately $9,646, as indicated above, this equates to a funding reduction of about $300,000 next year.  Then add on the pressures, of declining oil prices, and we are being told to prepare for another reduction of about 5% or $200,000 in state funding on top of the reductions I have already shared.

To meet this revenue shortfall, the district is already working on developing a comprehensive list of services and programs that could be cut.  The list thus far includes programs at every grade level, within athletics, transportation, academics, administration, vocational education, technology, and the list is growing.  In my view there are no safe programs. We need to take a hard look at everything and validate if we should continue to fund it or not.  But, let’s be perfectly clear cuts of this size do not go by unnoticed.  Cuts of this nature will include programs and services that families are used to and it will affect our school.

Administrators, teachers, staff, and the school board have been discussing this funding valley and cost cutting for about a month.  This blog post is the first of many ways we want to bring the general public into this discussion.  The school board is planning to provide a time for public comment and discussion about the funding shortfall at the November school board meeting.  If these issues concern you, please be watching for more information on the time and date of that meeting so you can become part of the discussion.