Tabernacle Board of Education adopts tentative 2019–2020 budget

The district anticipates facing state aid reductions totalling about $2.6 million by the 2024–2025 school year.

The Tabernacle Board of Education last week passed its tentative 2019–2020 budget, which could lead to a local school tax increase of about $31 for the owner of the average assessed home in the district.

Superintendent Glenn Robbins began the discussion by noting highlights of the 2018–2019 school year thus far, including various professional development conferences such as the Rewire conference and ECET 2 (Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers), along with school security enhancements, curriculum enhancements, the implementation of a Zen Den at Olson Middle School and the plans to bring a similar room to Tabernacle Elementary School.

Robbins also discussed the goals, priorities and initiatives for the 2019–2020 school year, including the enhancement of instructional programs, focus on student achievement, maintenance of extra-curricular activities and athletics, professional development, curriculum evaluation, school security enhancements, streamline school communication, and facility projects such as concrete repairs and roof repairs at OMS.

Although there are plans to enhance the schools in the upcoming school year, the district faces challenges due to state aid reductions.

Robbins said they were expecting to lose approximately $215,000 in state aid for the 2019–2020 school year; however, they will be losing $312,893. They are anticipating the loss of about $2.6 million by the 2024–2025 school year.

“To be honest, this is probably one of the most grueling, most tough times that I’ve ever had to deal with in my professional career,” Robbins said. “We’re trying to keep the best and utmost programs and staffing for our kids, at the end of the day that’s what it’s for — our children.”

Business administrator Jessica DeWysockie said that the total budget equals $14,819,065, with $13,808,914 in the general fund, $209,288 in the special reserve fund and $800,863 in the debt service fund.

The general fund faces a decrease of $587,539 from the 2018–2019 budget and is made up of various matters, such as salaries (58.42 percent), employee benefits (20.88 percent), instruction (4.43 percent), tuition/special ed and other (2.07 percent), operations/transportation (7.28 percent), clubs/activities (approximately 1 percent), support services such as the child study team and administration(4.12 percent) and equipment/capital projects (2.12 percent).

The tax levy is built off of the allotted 2 percent maximum hike, resulting in $7,832,419, which is $153,577 more than the 2018–2019 school year. DeWysockie said there is an available banked cap of $78,260, that will allow the district to exceed its 2 percent increase, although a decision has not been made on if the district will use that banked cap this upcoming school year.

DeWysockie explained the owner of an average home assessed at $264,729 will face a tax increase per household of $31.

Robbins said administration has evaluated all possible places to cut costs, including the decrease of cellphone contracts for next year, consolidating bus runs, reviewing anticipating retirements, a decrease in copier services, not renewing a part-time secretary position in the business office and looking into all staffing positions.

He said there was a favorable health-care renewal rate, and the majority of professional development events are funded through donations and grants.

Board members Brian Lepsis and Megan Chamberlain opposed the tentative budget, while the remainder of the board voted in favor, ultimately approving it.

The next board of education meeting and adoption of the final budget will take place on April 29 at 7 p.m. at Olson Middle School.