Hudson School District faces $1.5 million budget shortfallThe budget process for the upcoming school year is underway and the Hudson School District will be facing a dramatic cut of $1.5 million or more in state school aid.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The budget process for the upcoming school year is underway and the Hudson School District will be facing a dramatic cut of $1.5 million or more in state school aid.
The school board held a special meeting on Tuesday night (April 21) to discuss, and possibly act on, 2009-10 preliminary budget reductions including possible staff cuts. Details of that meeting were not available by press time but a complete story will appear in next week’s Star-Observer.
At last week’s regular Board of Education meeting District Financial Services Director Tim Erickson told board members that due to the closure of the St. Croix Business Park tax increment financing district (TIF), state aid to the district will be cut somewhere between $1.5 and $1.8 million. The TIF district added an additional $190,000,000 of property valuation to the district. According to the state aid formula, districts will property valuation per student higher than state averages face decreases in state aid.
Erickson pointed out that this situation is not new to the Hudson district since property valuation here has been higher than the state averages for many years. “However, the addition of $190,000,000 taking place in one year is unusual.” Erickson said the decrease would not have happened without the increased valuation “which is an uncontrollable event” affecting the district.
A bottom line on state aid to the Hudson district will not be available until October of this year. Erickson said the number is subject to change as the state works through the budget and funding process but the current project is “consistent with current funding assumptions.”
Board member Brian Bell is the chairman of the board’s finance committee which is charged with mapping out the new budget. He said he could not support any increases in district spending until the board has a “comprehensive budget plan” that addresses the decrease in district revenue for next year.
Said Bell, “We as a board have a big challenge in front of us. With the economic problems, the loss of personal net worth, job losses, salary cuts, flat property valuation and enrollment growth, the challenge we face is how to continue a culture of excellence without further burdening the taxpayer with an increased tax levy. We may have to make some hard decisions that may change our current course so as not over overburden the taxpayers.”
Later in the meeting, Bell was the sole dissenting vote on request to add a three-quarter time physical education teacher to the Middle School staff next year at a cost of $25,000. The board has already approved the addition of one full-time math teacher at the middle school next year at a cost of $40,000.
When asked about whether the federal government’s stimulus package has any money in it that would benefit the Hudson district, Erickson said some special education funds will be available but it is not clear if any additional funds will evolve from the stimulus package.
The package is said to contain some funds for qualified school construction. By way of explanation, Erickson said referendums would still be necessary for any building project. The funds would be used to offset interest associated with construction bonds.
Erickson said he would get information about the stimulus package to the board as soon as it was available.
For more information contact the Hudson School District at (715)377-3700 or to contact school board members go to the district’s website at www.hudson.k12.wi.us.