Archive for Wednesday, November 13, 2002

District braces for cuts

Anticipated reduction in state funding forces schools to take action

November 13, 2002

Nobody knows what's going to happen to state school funding.

But Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson is preparing for the worst.

Per pupil, USD 464 ¢ 1998-99 $4,692 ¢ 1998-99 $4,692 ¢ 2000-01 $4,944 ¢ 2001-02 $4,992 ¢ 2002-03 (est) $4,965 The 2002-2003 number reflects the $27 per pupil cut made earlier in the year. More reductions could follow.

"I've heard rumors that we might be looking at $70 to $100 per student reduction, and today I attended a meeting where they talked about a $200 reduction," Erickson said Friday.

Rep. Ken Wilk, R-Lansing, said he thinks schools will bear part of the burden of the state's financial shortfall.

"We are tens of millions of dollars short of being back to a zero balance for the current year," said Wilk, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "I think it's inevitable that there are going to be further reductions. No one wants to cut education, but given the significance of the budget situation, I don't know how you're going to exclude all of K-12 and get back to where we need to go."

A $75-per-pupil cut would save the state about $43 million. A $200-per-pupil cut would save about $115 million.

Dale Dennis, the state's deputy education commissioner, said it was too early to make a forecast.

"The gubernatorial candidates indicated there wouldn't be any cuts in education, but it's going to be extremely difficult to end the year with a balanced budget without affecting schools," Dennis said.

Erickson has put together contingency plans for two possible scenarios ? a $100 per pupil cut and a $200 per pupil cut.

"I'd much rather see the $100 per student cut because it's something we could live with much easier than the $200," Erickson said. "But we'll be prepared with both plans if we're faced with them."

The $200 plan would cut into fund balances and would wipe out the hope of building a contingency fund for putting money aside for the future.

"We normally set a goal of transferring 2 percent from the general fund into the capitol outlay fund at the end of the year ? that's awfully important to us to use for

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