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2016-17 Budget Q&A

1. Last year the state legislature gave a 2 percent increase? Will that happen this year?
Last year’s 2 percent increase was already factored into our current budget proposal. This current legislative session will not offer and increase in the funding formula. Next year’s session will focus on education budgets. You can help by advocating now for increasing the per-pupil formula that determines the bulk of education funding.

2. How many people will lose their jobs?
Two factors determine the number of people affected by budget cuts: 1) school enrollment, and the needed positions to support that enrollment and 2) recommended departmental cuts by department leaders, which will be finalized by late April.
Targeted departmental and central administrative reductions and a two percent inflation reduction to all departments will save about $6.8 million.
About 86 percent of the general fund is dedicated to salaries and benefits. At this point, we cannot have an accurate estimate of staff reductions until schools and departments have had a time to work through their budget allocations.

3. Are teachers going to lose their jobs?
Exact staffing adjustments are not yet known.

4. Why are you moving district support staff to the classroom?
District support staff, such as TOSAs, have done a fabulous job of building and supporting the instructional capacity of teachers throughout SPPS. As our buildings and classrooms have developed their collective capacity, it is the time to begin to pare down our district-level support staff.

5. When will employees know if they will lose their jobs?
Most people will know if their position will be retained by early May.

6. What/who will determine if someone is laid off?
Department leaders will work closely with Human Resources to determine the best way to meet expense reduction goals.

7. Will this affect any relationships with nonprofit organizations that serve your students?
Each school will handle their relationships with community partners differently based on its unique needs. The budgets schools are working with have significantly reduced flexibility, leaving them with reduced dollars to support additional programs and activities. This inflexibility is the result of our work to honor the requirements of the agreements made with our unions during negotiations. In order to meet staffing requirements set forth in that agreement, less funding is available for other programs and activities.

8. Why are you bothering to do a Facilities Master Plan if you don’t have any money?
Funding for our facilities updates does not come from the General Fund. That funding comes from capital bonds and the long term facilities maintenance revenue (levy). Those sources are not affected by the issues impacting our unrestricted General Fund dollars this year.

9. How much is administration being cut?
SPPS General Fund dollars are split into four pots that received the following reductions: 

Schools includes all school staff
Central Administration includes Board of Education and Senior Leadership
District Wide Support includes communications, finance, human resources, and technology services.
School Services Support includes special education, ELL, transportation, TDAS, counseling, early learning, family education, guidance, student placement, instructional services (OTL) and the Office of College and Career Readiness

10. Why don’t you use the large Fund Balance I heard you have? Everyone knows the district has a big “rainy day fund.”
The SPPS Fund Balance is actually a series of Fund Balances. Each Fund Balance -- except for the Unassigned Fund Balance -- has very strict restrictions on how it can be spent. Only the Unassigned Fund Balance is available for use for General Fund purposes, but the district  must retain a minimum of 5 percent  of its budget in unassigned Fund Balance per Board policy.

As of June 2015, the Unassigned Fund Balance sits at $29.6 million, which is just slightly higher than board-required five-percent of the overall General Fund. Five percent is approximately 2-1/2 weeks of operating costs. We are not able to use the unrestricted fund balance this year without dipping below the required 5 percent threshold. Last year we used approximately $2.5 million from the Unassigned Fund Balance.

The other Fund Balances include:
Non-spendable Fund Balance ($1.3 million)
Includes amounts that are not spendable for General Fund expenses, such as Inventory and Prepaid items.

Restricted Fund Balance ($13.3 million)
Includes amounts that are subject to externally enforceable legal restrictions outside the control of the local government used for items like our OPEB trust, which funds future retired employees health insurance benefits.

Committed Fund Balance ($24.9 million)
Includes amounts constrained for a specific purpose using its highest decision-making authority, the School Board (Severance, Retiree Health Insurance, pre-OPEB trust)

Assigned Fund Balance ($17.1 million)
Includes amounts constrained for a specific purpose, authorized by the School Board or individual authorized by the governing body (Next Year Operations, SSSC 2.0 Initiatives, Site Carryover)

11. Why are you proposing to cut job-embedded professional development for teachers? What is the impact of this decision?
The 7.2 million dollar cost of Job Embedded PLCs was spent hiring additional teachers to provide release time to classroom teachers so they could attend meetings during the time school is in session.

Holding professional development meetings for teachers during the workday is no longer something the district can afford.

Ending job embedded PLCs at sites not labeled as priority sites by the state means that professional development for teachers will return to the way it was done in the district for all but the last four years - before and after school.

The activities elementary students participated in during their teacher’s additional professional development period will be offered at a different time in the schedule.  Middle level students will continue to see a variety of electives offered but will spend less time in those electives.