Tooele County School District’s new superintendent is not wasting any time getting to work.
Three days after arriving on the job, Supt. Scott Rogers announced by email a list of budget reductions that added up to $666,828 in a quest to reach a board mandated $1.4 million budget reduction for the next school year.
Then on July 22, Rogers sent a second email to district staff that announced more budget reductions and revenue increases that total $549,645. This combination has brought the budget’s total savings to $1.2 million.
“We are keeping programs for kids intact and not impacting student-teacher ratios or class sizes,” he said.
The latest round of budget adjustments include $273,000 in revenue from the sale, at appraised value, of the old district office on Vine Street. The sale requires the approval of the school board at its Aug. 6 meeting.
Some savings and additional revenue were found in the food services budget, which had a $962,583 shortfall in the original 2014 budget, according to Rogers.
A five cent increase in all meal prices will result in an additional $100,000 of revenue.
The ala carte program that provides an alternative to the regular lunch menu will be eliminated producing $100,000 in savings.
Cooks that work six hours will have their workday reduced by one half hour for a $24,645 savings and the cost of uniform purchases for food service staff will be reduced by $10,000.
An EDNET coordinator position in Wendover will be reduced from 35 hours to 25 hours resulting in a savings of $18,000. EDNET are courses that are brought into classrooms from other locations by broadcast over the Utah Education Network, a publicly funded system that provides a variety of distance education services to Utah’s education and government institutions.
The district will also not renew its contract for operating an online K-8 program.
“Last year we went in the hole over $12,000 to run this and experienced many challenges,” said Rogers. “Currently, we have only one student enrolled with five others who have expressed interest. There are several other good alternatives for Utah students who wish to enroll in a full-time K-8 online program.”
Cutting the K-8 online program will save $24,000.
With negotiations with employee groups in progress, the 2014 budget includes an estimated $805,541 to cover anticipated negotiated agreements with employee groups. That figure may change, but Rogers said he couldn’t comment on negotiations that are in progress.
With the $1.4 million in reductions nearly accomplished, Rogers said that district staff will continue to review budgets department-by-department because the district needs to cut another $1 million in expenses next year to reach a balanced budget.
The possibility of closing schools to save money was the subject of a lengthy public discussion at the school board’s July 16 meeting.
Rogers said future discussion of school closures will be put on hold while the district gathers data on student enrollment, growth predictions and boundaries for a 10-year facilities plan.
Pleased with the overall direction and momentum of the district, Rogers cautions that some of the $1.2 million in savings are the result of one-time events that will need to be revisited again next year.
“Many of the cuts listed in this and the previous email are one-time money savings,” he said. “What we really need is to find reductions in ongoing operational costs. In other words, our work is not done.”