Is $2.7 M budget cuts the school has already implemented enough?
To be clear, the quoted $2.7 million budget cut does not mean the district will spend $2.7 million less than in 2020. It means they will spend an average of $2.5 million per year less than in their previous plan and collect an additional $0.2 million per year in fees. Their previous plan was an annual increase of 4% or an average of $6.1 million more per year than in 2020. Now they have reduced that to spending an additional $3.2 million per year while collecting an additional $0.2 million per year in fees. To put that in perspective, the average annual increase from 2015 to 2018 was only $1.7 million. At $6.4 million, the 2018 to 2019 increase was a significant outlier.
So, to achieve the advertised $2.7 million average annual reduction from their prior plan, they start with a 2021 baseline that is only $0.2 million less than the 2019 high water mark and plan to grow 3% annually from there. The Federal Reserve Board targets a 2% annual inflation rate, so they are still planning to grow at a rate 50% above the target inflation rate. The bottom line is the cuts represent a small pullback from the 2019 high with a plan to continue to increase spending at a rate that outpaces expected inflation from there on.
One other point: it is sad that some teachers and administrators will be losing their jobs. However, it should be noted that these cuts may not have been necessary if the administration had not increased teaching and administrative staff by a total of 16 employees since 2015, despite declining enrollment.