An operating levy that provides $11 million to Stillwater area schools each year expires in 2014 — and without a renewal of the levy, school officials say the district will lose nearly 20 percent of its annual revenue.
So what does that mean?
Well, according to district officials, it could mean cutting more than 50 teaching positions, eliminate free, all-day kindergarten and restructuring or closing one of the district’s elementary schools.
It could also mean eliminating 5-6 grade band and orchestra programs, reducting the number of electives in junior high, fewer gifted and talented programs, eliminating transportation for all students living within two miles of school and cutting security from the high school and school resources officers at the middle schools.
School officials will discuss impact of the expiring levy during the second of two Town Hall meetings on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 6-8 p.m. at Stillwater Junior High.
If the levy is not renewed, an $11 million shortfall would come on the heels of $6.4 million in cuts this year and $22 million in cuts over the past 12 years.
Stillwater school officials anticipate an additional $4-$6 million annual shortfall as a result of flat state funding, inflation and rising costs.
The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the possible budget cuts prior to the school board approving a list on March 7.
The following list, provided by the Stillwater Area School District, shows how the levy dollars have been spent, and outlines what the impact would be if this levy was not in place.
Class Size makes up 32 percent of the cuts ($3,478,785)
- Eliminate as many as 50 teachers, which would significantly increase the number of students in a classroom from 4 to 6 students in elementary schools, and 5-8 students at the secondary schools (scheduling issues could raise the number as high as 12 additional students in some secondary classes)
- Reduce the use of teacher and paraprofessional substitutes by 10 percent as a result of fewer teachers
Student Programming makes up 24 percent of the cuts ($2,624,990)
- Eliminate free all day, every day kindergarten (the state provides funding for half day kindergarten, fees would be charged to parents to continue to provide a full day option)
- Restructure and/or close an elementary school
- Eliminate 5th and 6th grade band and orchestra (reduction of five teachers)
- Reduce an elective choice for junior high students and replace with a mandatory study hall
- Shorten media, vocal music and physical education time at the elementary schools
- Reduce coordination of gifted and talented program
Learning Interventions make up 12 percent of the cuts ($1,285,798)
- Eliminate as many as 25 student support positions, including paraprofessionals, reading specialists, Special Education teachers, principals, assistant principals, administrators, counselors, nurses, clerical staff
- Reduce opportunities and support for struggling students
- Reduce coordination of student testing and assessment, and support services for students and families
- Eliminate school-based alternatives to out-of-school suspension
Facility and Operations make up 8 percent of cuts ($912,208)
- Eliminate as many as 15 custodians and groundskeepers
- Close Oak-Land Junior High swimming pool
- Increase electrical efficiencies beyond current measures (ie. parking lots and outdoor lighting)
- Reduce cleaning and supply budgets
Learning Environment makes up 6 percent of cuts ($680,178)
- Reduce the number of days students are in school and/or implement a four day week
- Adjust building temperatures (66 degrees during the winter, 79 degrees during the summer)
Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development make up 5 percent of cuts ($647,506)
- Reduce budget to implement strategic plan initiatives, and purchase new curriculum, classroom supplies and materials, and replacement materials for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses
- Delay curriculum and technology purchases
- Reduce curriculum and technology support staff and/or charge capital budget as possible
- Reduce professional development and training opportunities for staff
General Administrative Services makes up 5 percent of cuts ($602,543)
- Increase chargebacks to Community Education and Food Service budgets, which would lead to increased fees for school age care, enrichment classes, school lunches, etc.
- Reduce services, equipment and other business functions of the district: including auditing, communications, professional memberships, training, hiring
- Reduce support staff and/or reorganize departments at Central Services
Transportation makes up 3 percent of the cuts ($306,463)
- Eliminate transportation for all students (grades K-12) living within two miles of their school, with no special considerations for hazardous conditions (highways, railroad tracks, etc.) or fee for service options. This will result in earlier bus pick up times and later drop off times for all students.
- Eliminate transportation for students attending St. Croix Valley Area Learning Center
- Transportation changes would also impact charter and non-public students
Activities makes up 3 percent of the cuts ($275,054)
- Eliminate funding for 7th and 8th grade athletics
- Eliminate athletics supply budgets, resulting in more fund-raising through booster clubs, etc.
- Increase fees at the high school (athletic fee increases up to $95 per sport, concert ticket prices, etc.)
- Reduce the number of junior high and high school clubs and reduce activity budgets
Security makes up 2 percent of the cuts ($190,000)
- Eliminate contract for private security at Stillwater Area High School
- Eliminate contracts for school resource officers at both junior highs