Superior School Board adopts "bare bones" budgetOn Tuesday, the Superior School Board adopted a resolution to formally set its budget for the 2011-12 school year.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
On Tuesday, the Superior School Board adopted a resolution to formally set its budget for the 2011-12 school year.
As expected, this year’s numbers fall far short of last year’s. The Superior school district slashed its budget by 8.32 percent in the wake of deep cuts to state aid earlier this year.
The Board also voted to reduce the district’s tax levy by .45 percent, an accomplishment lauded by board member Bonnie Baker in light of recent increases that had driven up property taxes. In the previous two years, board members had voted to increase the tax levy by about 17 percent — including an 8.67 percent bump last year.
Superior district administrator Janna Stevens said the cuts to education have been difficult to accept, but she feels Superior has put itself in position to weather the storm.
“I think we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Stevens said. “This is the year that was really brutal.”
Board president John Hendricks also spoke briefly about the statewide reduction in education funding.
He said this year’s scaled-back budget — which forced the district to eliminate two full-time administrative positions and two teaching positions at the high school — takes into account “cuts we’re being forced to swallow from the state.”
Superior’s schools saw about a 10 percent cut in state aid this year and faced a mandatory 5.5 percent reduction in district revenue limits — reducing per pupil spending by about $550.
In all, the district was forced to absorb $2.9 million in cuts for the current school year. Stevens said the bulk of the shortfall was passed off to employees, who agreed to concessions asking for a 5.8 percent contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) and an increased share of health insurance costs.
About $1.5 million was recouped from the shift in retirement costs, and Superior also got unexpected health insurance savings. Because of higher costs, many employees opted to switch from a family plan to single coverage this year, Stevens said, which saved the district about $500,000 in health insurance costs.
To offset the remaining funding deficit, the district eliminated administrative and support staff positions and cut two teaching positions at Superior High School.
One of the positions lost at the high school came in the art department, and Stevens said it has resulted in fewer art class offerings for students.
For the most part, however, Superior was able to avoid making cuts that impact students directly.
At the administrative level, Stevens said the district is already feeling the impact of the staff reductions.
The middle school and high school are both operating with one less full-time administrator this year, and two support staff positions were also left unfilled.
Stevens said the district is now at a “bare bones” level administratively but has been coping. The Board will revisit the staffing levels at a future board meeting if the situation becomes untenable, Stevens said.