School Board committees discuss 2011-12 budget reductions

If you think the changes in the Kenosha Unified School District budget for next year aren’t getting a lot of discussion, think again.

Superintendent Michele Hancock opened Wednesday’s budget meeting with the statement that there have been 18 meetings and 90 hours spent since December on the zero-based budgeting process. “With $577.84 per student less than last year, we need to be fiscally responsible and work on the transformation process,” Hancock said. “We either need to increase taxes or take budget reductions. We plan to be better tomorrow than today; we don’t plan to be finished.”

With that, Sheronda Glass, assistant superintendent of business, and Ronald Vavrik, CPA, interim chief financial officer, took the audience of a full board room, and several overflow rooms, through their presentation. A handout was provided to audience members with the district’s projected budget position as of yesterday. Required revenue budget assumptions were listed showing $19,304,471 as the initial projection of a revenue decrease. The decrease is comprised of:

  • Over $9 million of anticipated decreases to the district’s revenue limit.
  • Over $6 million of decreases attributed to the loss of American Road to Recovery Act and Education Jobs federal funding.
  • $1.6 million of decreases attributed to the elimination of state grant funding.
  • An anticipated $1 million decrease due to the elimination of the student base registration fee.

Required expenditure budget assumptions were:

  • $10 million for the increase in salary and benefits for current district funded staff.
  • A decrease of over $1 million for the Wisconsin Revenue System (WRS) pension.
  • A reduction of $864,445 for early retirement reimbursement program health expenses.
  • A reduction of over $4 million by eliminating all ED jobs positions.
  • A reduction of over $2 million by eliminating ARRA positions and expenditures.
  • A reduction of over $1 million by eliminating preschool to grade 5 funding.
  • A reduction of $130,033 by eliminating alcohol and drug funding.
  • A reduction of $90,000 by eliminating alternative grants.
  • $825,601 for reinstating positions funded via Jobs Bill funding.
  • $32,999 for transportation (City transit increase).
  • $146,627 for transportation (First Student contract increase).
  • $108,580 for transportation (route increase).
  • An increase of $15,664 for property insurance.
  • An increase of $13,693 for liability insurance.
  • An increase of $55,975 for electric utilities.
  • An increase of $37,388 for gas utilities.
  • An increase of $209,491 for utilities budgets due to the Indian Trail Academy (ITA) expansion.\
  • An increase of $12,234 for school leadership (police liaison officers).
  • An increase of $468, 216 for ITA’s athletic budget.
  • An increase of $294,264 for ITA’s 2011-12 operational budget.
  • An increase of $20,725 for the change in the nursing contract.
  • An increase of $20,000 in the Lakeview Technology Academy lease.
  • A reduction of $1.4 million for the K-5 reading adoption budget in 2010-11.

Proposed expenditure budget assumptions (increases) included:

  • $250,000 for the facilities budget.
  • $200,000 for new HR software.
  • $12,900 to implement the employee assistance program.
  • $20,000 for the Gallup increase.
  • $325,000 for NWEA testing.
  • $62,900 for funding all pre-school 4&3’s previously funded with ARRA.
  • $9,100 for talent development.
  • $30,000 for science literature kits.
  • $576,590 for early education.
  • $466,720 for instructional technology.
  • A $116,000 increase to operational transfer to debt service.

Decreases to the budget included:

  • Over $19 million for salary and benefits related to staff reductions.
  • $500,000 for eliminating SAGE.
  • $90,000 for eliminating the carpentry program.
  • $57,400 for utilities associated with closing Columbus School.
  • $13,465 for utilities associated with closing the Jefferson School Annex.
  • $304,459 for the overall charter school reduction due to reducing per pupil dollars.
  • $50,000 in AP testing fees, and $1 million in Educational Support Center discretionary budget reductions.


This projection accounts for the anticipated overall increase of 128 full-time equivalent students. Administration will continue to analyze the projected student enrollment throughout the process and may make recommendations to modify the revenue projection.

Also included in the projection is over $1.8 million that was not levied in the 2010-2011 school year to keep the tax levy increase to as low as possible. Current State law requires that this amount be levied the following year or this authority will be lost. In addition, over $1.7 million of the $2.47 million operating budget increase approved as part of the 2008 Referendum will be included in the 2011-2012 budget, based on the corresponding expenditure increases in the increased operating costs of Indian Trail Academy High School for the next year.

An assessor told the district that their revenues were increasing by 3.3 percent every year, and their expenditures were increasing faster, by 4.8 percent every year. There is a budget deficit of $33,576,968.

Questions were raised by the various committee members and answered by Daniel Tenuta and other members of the panel. Also, during the Joint Personnel/Policy & Curriculum/Program Committees Meeting, questions were raised and answered. ¬†Hancock wanted to make it clear that amendments were made as a result of feedback received from last Tuesday’s meeting. There are now three avenues for students who may choose to enroll in courses beyond the 28 credit cap. Those three avenues are:

  • By auditing a class.
  • Youth Options.
  • Summer school.

Voting at the end of the meeting yielded the following results: A tie in the vote of the Personnel/Policy members, and a 4 to 1 vote of the Curriculum/Program members. Therefore, the proposal will be given to the full board to decide at next Tuesday’s Board meeting.


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