As we are well aware by now, this is a challenging budget year for everyone, including school districts. The RCS Board of Education, Administration and Staff have worked for months on the 2010-2011 budget with two goals in mind. The first goal has been to maintain a 0% increase to our taxpayers, who we recognize may be struggling in this economic time. The second goal has been to maintain our quality of education and programs for our students to the extent possible.
We are pleased to announce that our 2010-2011 budget accomplishes both goals. How did we do it? Our teachers, staff and administration prepared the individual parts of our budget with a 0% increase in mind, determining to make the amount we had budgeted last year work for us again. At the same time, the Administrative Staff worked to identify those positions that we could consider for reductions. With the Governor’s Proposal of a decrease in our state aid of $595,958 (Gap Elimination Adjustment), we prioritized our possible reductions and made the tough decisions necessary. Readers may remember that last year we had reductions that included a middle school principal and two reading teachers.
What do the actual numbers look like? After considering all of our increases to items like payroll, utilities, transportation costs, and other contractual costs, we have an overall budget decrease of $37,441 (-0.2%) and no increase to the local tax levy. For more details, look for our budget newsletter which will be mailed to every home in April.
Our 2010-11 budget includes the elimination of our School Resource Officer, our Technology Coordinator and one special education teacher. We also employ a part time curriculum coordinator through BOCES who we are planning to share with another school district next year. Instead of working at Randolph 3 days per week, she will work at Randolph two days and another district two days. These four reductions account for $219,000 of the $595,958 cut from state aid. The remaining $377,000 will come from our unappropriated fund balance. Because of the excellent fiscal management of this Board of Education over the past several years, we can use the $377,000 from fund balance and still maintain enough additional funds to help again next year. The news we continue to hear about next year’s State budget is even worse than this year.
If need be in the future, we can look again at our prioritized list of reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. They are not positions we plan to cut at this time but are positions and programs that in the worst of times, we are able to eliminate from our school district. Unfortunately, many of our neighboring districts are forced to look at reductions to these programs for the 2010-2011 school year.
What might those reductions include? Programs that districts are not mandated to include like an elementary library media specialist, an elementary classroom teacher (which would impact class size), an In School/Out of School Suspension program, a business teacher, a school nurse, modified athletics, music and/or art programs. Let’s hope we don’t reach that point next year either. We will continue to make fiscally responsible decisions on behalf of our students and our taxpayers. No one wants to see us cut programs, but the reality of the state budget does affect us in Randolph too. I can’t wrap everyone in a protective bubble and shield them from the reality of this economic crisis. I wish that I could, but that would be less than honest. We are managing the cuts as well as or better than any other district, but I have no crystal ball to tell me how long the state budget crisis will continue or how severe the cuts to state aid will be. Bottom line, it’s tough all over and we’re doing okay.
To our incredible faculty and staff: Decisions like the reductions listed above will not be taken lightly. They will be made only if absolutely necessary and in full discussion with the administrative team, the Board of Education, and any individuals who may be affected. I can assure you that we don’t make reductions like this without talking to the individuals well in advance. In other words, if your position is going to be cut, you will know long before anyone else does. It’s not a guessing game or something we will surprise you with at the last minute. If you’re worried, come and see me. I will speak with you honestly and frankly. I promise. And if things improve, we won’t have to make any additional cuts next year.
I am very grateful to our taxpayers who have supported education by passing budgets and to those who have led this district for years, including our business manager of 18 years and our dedicated BOE members, who have taken care to put this District in good stead for the bad times we are likely to face in the coming years. Thank you.