From the Superintendent of Schools
As the world around us is almost unrecognizable to what it was just weeks ago, our hopes are that we will see a shift towards normal life in the near future. The spread of the COVID-19 virus has presented us all with exceptional challenges. With so much uncertainty ahead, it has made developing our proposed budget an unprecedented task. Looming and dramatic cuts in state aid are a real concern. Maintaining our current level of services and staying below the tax cap are our top priorities for next year’s budget.
The Governor announcing that additional cuts to school aid could come during the 2020-2021 school year has created a new level of uncertainty to our ability to plan for the upcoming year. State aid, expense-driven aid, county sales tax, and other revenue will all be negatively impacted to a significant degree. With the downturn of the stock market, we also must look ahead and expect that the District’s contribution to the respective retirement systems will significantly increase over the next few years. That said, many items on the expense side of the budget have been significantly reduced or cut altogether. Please remember that our proposed budget only establishes the ceiling for what we could spend in a fiscal year. We expect to spend less than that amount, and if the additional cuts in state aid come to fruition, it will be significantly less, with potential mid-year cuts.
Our proposed budget for the 2020-2021 school year is $32,692,679. This is a $1,662,089 or 4.84% decrease from this current year’s budget. This reduction of expenditures is a result of some of the cuts that I referred to earlier, as well as our paying the final debt payment for the 2008 capital project. Paying off this project did result in a proportional decrease of building aid for next year. For the ninth year in a row, we will again stay below the legislated tax cap. Our proposed tax levy increase for the 2020-2021 school year is 2.8%.
Two exceptions to the aforementioned cuts are, continuing the scheduled purchase of student technology devices, and hiring an additional 5th grade teacher. We are moving forward in ensuring students have a district-issued Chromebook laptop device. This is an initiative that we began implementing last year. By the end of next year, we plan to have five grade levels between grades 5 through 12 completed. We hope to complete this initiative in the 2021-2022 school year. Our efforts in this regard have already paid off, enabling us to provide Chromebook devices to countless students and families during this period of dismissal. This has allowed us to effectively provide students with the devices and technology needed to actively engage in the current distance learning model.
The hiring of an additional teacher at the Elementary School is vital. Our student enrollment data has been trending up in the Elementary. This has caused some discrepancies with class sizes and schedules that must be addressed. Additionally, this would allow us to implement a six-day rotational schedule in the Elementary School that aligns with our middle and high school schedules. This alignment will enable us to more efficiently utilize and share staff across the District.
On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank you for your ongoing support of the Cleveland Hill School District. A strong partnership and working relationship between the school district and community is more vital now than ever. If at any time you are not satisfied with our efforts in any area, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Jon T. MacSwan