Business manager addresses school spending slow down

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

Sheboygan Falls School District Director of Business Services Mary Blaha responded to inquiries about the district’s current spending slow down, during a monthly School Board meeting Monday, Nov. 16, in the high school library.

Blaha’s explanation came in response to district resident Cindy Dorn, who questioned why the district has been freezing student activity accounts,

During the public forum portion of the meeting, Dorn stated the the high school dance team had recently placed an order for new uniforms, but were not allowed to do so because of the spending shut down for extra student activities.

“To my understanding the school district has had a budget freeze since the end of October, which resulted in the dance team being denied new uniforms for this year,” Dorn said. “The girls were very excited to get new uniforms because it has been a long time since they’ve had new ones.

“Due to the freeze in the student activity accounts, teachers and coaches are not able to access funds for field trips and other extra activities at this time,” she said. “This has affected the entire district and the entire community as well. The community is wondering why. The answer I’ve heard is that state funding has not come through. I have checked and I do not know of another school district with frozen accounts right now. I’m wondering why this is happening only here in Sheboygan Falls.”

Later in the meeting, during the business office administrative report, Blaha explained that the spending slow down is the result of a cash flow issue related to a gap in state funding.

“The way state funding is set up, we receive money from the state in September and then we do not receive any additional funding until December 8th,” Blaha said. “That is a pretty large gap to account for, and in the past we’ve filled out paperwork for short-term borrowing to carry us through.

“I would not describe it as a spending freeze, but we are caught in a tight spot as far as extra spending goes,” Blaha said. “We are not currently operating in a deficit, so we can’t borrow money at this time. On the other hand, in the event of an emergency spending situation, we don’t have enough funds to meet all of the expenses that we absolutely need to cover. We don’t want to spend too much on extra things and not be able to meet the expenses that we need to cover, like payroll.”

Blaha went on to note that the district has put extra spending for student activities on hold only until the next state aid payment comes in December.

“We need to prioritize during this interim stretch, so that is why we are trying to wait on purchases of supplies or equipment that are not needed at this time,” Blaha said. “When the state funding comes through, extra purchases through the student activity account will be considered as usual.”

Athletic Director Jake Beschta stated that a letter has been sent to all coaches informing them of the reasoning of the current spending slow down for extra purchases.

A full report from the meeting will appear in next week’s Sheboygan Falls News.

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