Budget picture coming in focus

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH - With the figures a tad sharper than a month ago, the projected budget deficit for the upcoming year is still hovering around $100,000, District Business Manager Jon Miller told the Plymouth School Board Tuesday.

Miller characterized his presentation as a “first snapshot” of the budget, which is typically hazy at this time of the year because many important figures that will be finalized in the final draft will not solidify until September. The $100,000 figure, he added, was significantly better than what had been projected a year ago at the same stage of the budget process.

Miller added that this “snapshot” was made on a state budget that has only advanced to — not past — the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, where a large share of school revenues are determined.

Overall, Miller said, the district expects little change in revenues — $24,648,904 in the upcoming year vs. $24,525,065 last year. The figure reflects increases of about $135,000 each in the revenue cap and open enrollment and a decrease of $68,000 due to the end of the UW-Oshkosh program.

Expenses, Miller said, are projected to go up some 1.3 percent. Salaries for teachers and administrators will rise 2.77 percent from last year, not on an across-the-board basis but on a performance-based system. Notable items in this modest increase include an addition of only 0.30 Full-time equivalent teaching positions, zero increase in health insurance rated, 1.4 percent increase in dental insurance and the change to a different system in paying new retirees.

Included in the budget, Miller said, were an unspecified number of new desks and chairs for Parkview, band instruments for Riverview, a FACE refrigerator for Riverview, high school band instruments. two welders for the high school, library computers and 300 laptop computers, and defibrillation system updates.

Not included were high school math desks and chairs, high school band storage lockers, high school band ultrasonic instrument cleaner, high school botany digital microscope/vernier, high school FACE kitchen items, tech ed Photoshop, high school treadmill and fitness bike, high school soccer goals and major maintenance projects — lighting, carpeting, etc.

Significant changes in numbers used may occur before September when WRS Retirement system rates will be released, when the effect of summer hiring is known and when enrollment changes solidify.

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In other financial matters, the board approved implementation of the District’s final offer for the 2015-16 collective bargaining agreement withthePlymouthEducationAssociation.Underit,therewillbea0percent increase for all bargaining unit members, but the 2.7 percent of total compensation is distributed on a performance-bases basis according to the district’s career and compensation model.

The board also approved an amendment to the 2015-16 teacher Employment Framework that will allow revision of the list of sponsored extracurricular activities to provide for and promote higher levels of student participation in several areas. The amendment also provides for an increase in substitute teacher pay, with an eye to remaining competitive in the area, where the district is actually lower than most.

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