Preliminary state budget figures released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that the Waukesha School District could be facing a $10.9 million reduction in its revenue cap for the 2011-12 school year and a $14.6 million reduction in the 2012-13 school year.
Because of the provisions laid out in the teachers contracts that was approved earlier this month that includes a change to take teachers twice as long to reach the top of the salary schedule than in all previous contracts, the district is facing about $2 million in cuts for next school year, Superintendent Todd Gray said.
“The savings from the old contract has already been built into that reduction,” Gray said. “We have already factored in the benefits from the last contract.”
Gray said school district staff is in preliminary discussions about where to make cuts to meet the revenue limits that are being proposed but is not ready to make those suggestions public. The district is well positioned for the next school year, under the figures that were released Tuesday.
Gray said the district needs to receive more concrete details as the proposed budget goes through committees and obtains final approval.
“We don’t know if this is the bottom or not,” Gray said. “If this is what the budget bill looks like, we should be in pretty good shape.”
But the 2012-13 school year could be a different case under the preliminary data.
“It is the second year that will cause problems,” Gray said.
The numbers are the most complete figures available since Gov. Scott Walker's budget speech, but according to a memo released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, "the information is a static estimate of the effect of the proposed changes as if the changes had applied in 2010-11. If a district has increasing enrollment, the proposed changes would affect more pupils, and the effect would be greater than that shown in the attachment.
"Conversely, if a district has declining enrollment, the effect would be less. In addition, school districts would determine whether to levy to the maximum allowed under the proposed per pupil adjustment, or low revenue ceiling, whichever would apply."
The Waukesha School District’s current contract with its union members expires in June. The school district could use the budget repair law, which goes into effect March 25, but it is unknown how that will look, Gray said. The law limits collective bargaining for public employee unions to wages.
The school district will take a look at the law with its attorneys after the law is enacted, Gray said.
“We will see how that plays out,” Gray said.
Another consideration in Walker’s proposed budget from limiting local school districts and municipalities from raising property taxes to reflect the changes in decreased funding.
But, with the revenue cap being decreased, there is the potential that the school district will have to lower taxes to meet the revised and reduced revenue cap, if approved by the state lawmakers.
“Looking at the numbers right now, we would be cutting a larger amount than we would be reducing in aid,” Gray said.