School district proposes cutting 17 positions for 2014-2015 school year; public meeting is April 9
By the end of April, Hastings School District 200 will make its final determination on where to cut $1.5 million from its 2013-2014 budget.
The funds have to be cut due to ongoing declining enrollment in the district, a trend that is not likely to change for quite some time, district officials said.
The number of students is directly tied with the amount of revenue from the federal and state government and the local levy. As the number of students decline, so does the amount of revenue that the district takes in, superintendent Tim Collins said.
An enrollment survey was completed for the district 10 years ago. Those numbers have proven to be accurate, so the district hired the same firm to complete another study last fall. This time a 10-year projection was calculated.
The results from the survey are not good news for the district’s enrollment. The enrollment is expected to continue declining for the next 10 years by another 800 students, or down to about 3,700 students. The decline is both in the elementary and secondary level.
Why? While the city of Hastings will continue to grow, the number of children will not, according to the study. Part of it, according to the survey, is the number of women of child-bearing age will continue to decline in the district.
When the first survey was completed, the district was operating in the red by $2.3 million. The first 10-year operating levy was put to the voters; a second was put to the voters in 2005. Both passed. District voters renewed the 2003 levy at the same amount last fall.
The amount of funding per pupil remains the same, but is based on the number of students. With fewer students, there is less received from the levies.
How does a declining enrollment impact a school district’s finances?
“Even if the school district reduces staff at the same rate they lose students, when declining enrollment is a trend, they cannot make up the loss in funding,” said Collins.
For example, there are currently 300 students in kindergarten with 15 teachers. For the fall of 2014, the number of students in kindergarten is estimated at 260. Two positions would be eliminated, remaining at the 20 students per class size.
The per-pupil funding means that the school district receives $8,873 in funding for each student enrolled.
”You do the math,” he said.
There is a net loss of $244,720 to the district.
The district has a reserve now, but its expenses this year exceed its revenues by $1.6 million.
“Plus, the cost of doing business does not remain the same over the next 10 years,” Collins said. He pointed to several examples from the past several years.
The cost of health insurance in 2009 was $5.47 million. This year, it is $6.50 million.
Purchased services for special services at district 917 (Dakota County Technical College) were $1.7 million in 2009; this year, it is $2.4 million.
The cost of utilities has increased by about $100,000 – this year it is about $873,000. Workers compensation has almost increased threefold – to $427,000 this year. The district’s property liability insurance is $142,000 this year, up from the $105,000 of four years ago.
Cost-saving measures have been undertaken over the years, according to Collins. The former Cooper Elementary School was sold, rental leases for the Hastings Community Education and the Senior Center were ended. The former Tilden Elementary School, now the Community Center, houses the programs.
The Minnesota Legislature approved additional funding for schools during the 2013 session and Hastings will receive additional funding. Again, it is based on per-pupil numbers. With fewer students next year, the impact will not be significant enough to avoid having to make the cuts, Collins said.
By the end of the month, the Hastings School Board is expected to pass several resolutions eliminating the equivalent of 17 full-time positions, and placing staff on unrequested leaves and non-renewals of positions. The action is necessary, Collins says, as the district cuts $1.5 million from its next budget.
“It is difficult,” Collins said. “But we can work through this together. We have been fortunate that the Hastings community has supported us.”
The community will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed budget reductions and share their questions and concerns at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, in the Hastings Middle School cafeteria.
The reductions are district-wide, elementary to secondary, and special services.
The smaller class sizes are maintained at the three elementary schools, but the library media certified staff and the office/media secretarial staff at each will be eliminated. The computer lab staff person nearby each remains.
The libraries will be open and operational, with the assistance of the school office staff and the individual classroom staff personnel.
“This is a difficult reduction,” said Collins. “But with the increasing skills of technology, much of it taught in the classroom, it can be used here. The use of the library as a learning environment will not decrease. Its use will not be improved or enhanced, but it will continue to be functional in the education of students.”
At the high school and middle school, administrators have considered the past history of different classes and subjects. Registrations for next year have been considered, as well classes where there have been fewer students in the past several years.
After Collins met with the School Board last month, he held individual staff meetings. Next is the community meeting for more input.
Later this month, the School Board will take action to begin the process of position reduction – non-renewals and unrequested leaves. The list is finalized in May.
The full list of proposed reductions is on the district’s website: www.hastingsk12.mn.us.
Here are some of the cuts being proposed:
Hastings Middle School – two math positions, 1.2 science positions, one art position, one music position, 1.5 physical education positions, one family and consumer science position, one industrial technology person and one Spanish position (among others).
Hastings High School – One science position and several part-time cuts: .2 Spanish, .333 family and consumer science, .66 English, .3 French, .66 math, .53 social studies and more.
The elimination of the 9B volleyball, baseball and football team, transportation and officials saves $2,400.
The elimination of the 9B coaches in volleyball and baseball saves $5,600.
Elementary – Three office/media secretarial staff will be cut, and three library staff will be cut.
Special services – Four PSAs will be cut across the district (one at Pinecrest, one at McAuliffe and two at HMS), among other cuts.