Teutopolis School Board Discusses Potential Budget Cuts

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Published on October 3 2012 8:34 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Teutopolis school board members Wednesday discussed the process of cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the district budget.  The surgery is necessary because the State has failed to deliver on funding promised Teutopolis and other downstate school districts.

While the problem has been identified, how to respond is a lot tougher.

Teutopolis Superintendent Bill Fritcher said the cuts in State funding not only extend to the Education Fund but also to what was promised in transportation funding.  A drop in enrollment in the district has also caused a reduction in General State Aid funding from the State.  Fritcher said the district has gone from local revenues making up 31% of the budget in 2001-2002 to 51% this year.  Meanwhile, State funding only provides 44% of the district's income.

Those factors have resulted in the district staring at a deficit budget of $1.17 million for the coming fiscal year.  Last month, the school board directed the administration to come up with ways to reduce the deficit. 

There are a host of options ranging from cuts in personnel to elimination of extra-curricular programs to an increase in property taxes.  The tax hike could only occur by referendum, and board members said they'd likely want to look at cuts before deciding on a referendum.

There was again discussion of a survey of district residents, but Board members indicated that they want all the information they could move ahead with any option.  Fritcher said he would be meeting with district administrators to come up with as much information as possible, but wasn't sure whether it could all be compiled before the Board's regular meeting later this month.

Board members also said they weren't certain they need to make up the entire deficit, but said making a "significant cut" is a priority.

It's not an easy process; Fritcher said, "Anything we do is going to hurt, what we hope is to do what will hurt the least."