BIG PINEY – Trustees of the Sublette County School District No. 9 (SCSD#9) board gathered for a special meeting last Wednesday evening to make necessary cuts to the district’s budget, following the decline in revenue from the state level and a decline in the student population.
“Ultimately, we had to cut almost $997,000 out of the budget,” chief financial officer Amy Anschutz said to the board. “We’re fighting not only a loss of ADM, but we’re fighting a cash crunch based on the loss of revenue at the county level as well. We are not anticipating this to get much better. If we hold steady at our current ADM (average daily membership), … we’re still looking at another decline in student ADM of almost 21 to 24 students. That is the main driver of the loss in funding.”
Not knowing what the Legislature is going to do next year forced the district to be aggressive in cuts, according to Anschutz.
She says they needed to cut nearly a million dollars in order to maintain a balanced budget at the district so they don’t have to dip into operational reserves. When looking at where to make cuts, Anschutz said the district attempted to provide as little impact as possible to the remaining employees of the district, but that they still had to reduce their force by 13.5 full-time equivalents (FTEs) over the course of next year. She says the cuts come from both attrition and eliminating positions and moving employees to other positions.
“That’s in addition to the loss of FTEs that we had last year,” she said.
The reductions on the table at last Wednesday’s meeting included eliminating six certified positions, 1.2 admin positions, a reduction in force of five classified FTEs and to reduce three classified FTEs to part-time non-benefit positions. In addition, the board called for a reduction of 2.5 percent for non-salary/benefit expenses and to eliminate the district daycare program, which would cause the reduction in force of one classified full-time position.
In the allowances portion of the budget deliberations, they will allow horizontal and vertical movement, along with instituting employee medical insurance premium deductions based on plan type and health blood draw participation.
The district will cover the increase in dental premiums, and will continue to pick up 100 percent of the employee portion of Wyoming retirement contribution.
Over the course of two school years, SCSD#9 has made cuts in the neighborhood of $2 million, and Anschutz anticipates additional cuts next year. When looking at the number of students coming into the district in kindergarten and the seniors leaving with the remainder of the students advancing a grade with no changes in the funding model, the district is looking at a loss of almost 23 students, equating to loss of $360,000.
According to district superintendent Steve Loyd, the plan is to not dip into cash reserves.
“Right now, if everything works out, we are going to be fine,” he said. “But if we have a major issue come up, we’re going to have to have another discussion because it’s tight.”
Anschutz said they did see a reduction in the district’s health insurance, which she says should allow for horizontal and vertical moves on the salary scale, but noted that only approximately one-third of the district’s employees are currently eligible for movement.
Given the reductions in staff and the layoffs, Anschutz said they are still trying to offer the package that makes it pleasing for the people still here to stick around.
“We are running on less than 0.3-percent revenue to expenditure margin, which is a very small margin,” she noted. “We normally run somewhere where we expect 3 percent more in revenue than we have in expenditures. Last year was 0.9 percent.”
After discussing the matter, the board voted to approve the budget deliberations agenda item, which unanimously passed.
“There’s a lot of changes in our district this year and we are trying to do the best we can, but it’s been tight,” Loyd said.
The next regular monthly SCSD#9 school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. in the Fine Art Center Boardroom.