SHERIDAN — Sheridan County School District 2 approved a $49.5 million budget for the new school year, spreading the burden of a half-million dollars in cuts among building supply budgets, employee insurance and staff cuts.
Facing a 1 percent budget cut that lawmakers put in place in March for schools statewide, SCSD2 cut two full-time central office staff, converted one salaried position into an hourly pay position, eliminated a one-semester French teaching position and cut two technology integration jobs, replacing them with existing district teachers who had received additional training in technology curriculum.
The district also saved money by not replacing some retiring employees, eliminating long-term disability insurance for staff, switching carriers for property and faculty insurance and reducing supply budgets for every building in the district by 10 percent.
The district will also begin leasing buses instead of buying them. This won’t save money, since the state currently reimburses all transportation costs, but it will help with cash flow.
It could also help if lawmakers opt not to reimburse all transportation costs for school districts in the future, Business Manager Roxie Taft said, which they considered earlier this year.
The district will now spend less per pupil than it did last year, by roughly $300. It is also more reliant on state funds than it was last year, since local revenues from property valuation continue to decline.
The $49.5 million budget is for the general fund only and does not include budgets for early retirement, food service and other areas the district budgets for separately.
Superintendent Craig Dougherty said the district was able to save more than it had anticipated, spending only 96 percent of its budget this past year and pumping additional money into reserves.
“So we were able to, basically, get ready for the possible financial storm in the future,” he said.
“We believe that there’s possibly going to be more than a 1.4 percent cut next year,” he said, referencing the cut lawmakers planned this year for school districts to shoulder next year.
“And if that’s the case, our No. 1 job is to protect teaching positions that work with the kids every single day,” he said.
In other news:
• Board members reappointed Kim Anderson to a three-year term on the Sheridan Recreation District Board.
• Board members voted to let Facilities Director Julie Carroll advertise bids when ready for projects relating to building security, per Homeland Security recommendations, and to Henry A. Coffeen Elementary playground surfacing and drainage. The projects are already being planned and designed and have already been funded by the state.