Westside Releases 2017-2018 Budget Report
Monday night, Westside Superintendent Dr. Blane McCann presented a 2017-2018 Budget Report to the Board of Education. Westside Community Schools faces an anticipated budget gap of approximately $3.2 million dollars, a number higher than originally projected due to anticipated revenue shortfalls at the state level and current discussions in the Unicameral reducing funding for public schools.
The District has approached this challenge from every angle to balance the budget while protecting classrooms and learners. District leaders have solicited feedback from staff members, families and the community. Our Budget Priority Committee, composed of educators, stakeholders and parents met for several weeks to discuss options and prioritize programs and policies. Dr. McCann visited each building, as well as with our Community Councils, to share insight into the process and to answer any questions. In addition, the District has been proactive on several fronts to ensure and strengthen sources of revenue, especially through advocacy within the Nebraska Legislature.
“Austerity only goes so far before we don’t look like the District we want to be,” said Dr. McCann. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”
Based on community feedback, the Budget Priority Committee created a list of approximately 45-50 areas to evaluate within Westside Community Schools. The following were determined to be top priorities within our District:
- MAINTAINING CLASS SIZE AT ELEMENTARY LEVEL (18-22)
- SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS
- HIGH SCHOOL MODULAR SCHEDULING
- READING COORDINATORS FOR REMEDIATION AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL
- MAINTAINING CLASS SIZE AT MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL (20-25)
- SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS
- SCIENCE ADOPTION
- MAINTAINING CLASS SIZE AT HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL (18-27)
- PERFORMING ARTS
- 1:1 LEARNING INITIATIVE
With those priorities in mind, the Budget Priority Committee then identified proposed reductions and restructuring of programs and policies within Westside Community Schools. CLICK HERE to download the complete 2017 Budget Report for additional details and fiscal impact.
“Please note, you won’t see many teachers on this list. We had to prioritize,” said Dr. McCann. “As a District, we are trending in a direction where are expenses match our revenues. People are going to take on additional duties, but ultimately, we are protecting our classrooms and making sure our learners benefit. We’ll get through this.”
Dr. McCann, as well as Board Members Kris Karnes and Adam Yale, both noted their appreciation to Westside families, staff members and community members for actively engaging in the process. The District received dozens of emails and messages offering suggestions and comments regarding the budget, all of which were shared with the Budget Priority Committee.
“I can’t think of one meeting I have been to this year where budget was not part of the discussion,” said Karnes, who was also part of the committee. “The thing that really stood out to me about the budget committee was that we read every single suggestion that our stakeholders submitted. We talked about everything that was proposed. We are appreciative of how the entire committee engaged in defining our priorities, and it was beneficial to hear what the community values. We believe that everybody came away from the process having learned more about our District.”
“We started the conversation earlier this year and talked to a lot more people,” said Board Member Adam Yale, who was also part of the Budget Priority Committee. “We saw multiple people going deep into their budgets to come up with solutions. We know that we are asking folks to sacrifice, and we believe everybody is sharing in that sacrifice. This isn’t fun, but we think that this was a better process. I commend the hard work, candor and creativity that our staff and our community put into the process, and we are doing our best to look toward not only expense reductions in the future but also revenue solutions.”
All six Board of Education members noted they are proactively talking with Nebraska legislators to ensure the future of funding for public education. They encouraged all stakeholders to engage in the process, follow bills that could impact funding, and take action on behalf of our schools. CLICK HERE to learn more.
“This is the first step in the process,” said Board President David Williams. “We’ve got a long way to go and the Legislature is a moving target.”
Board members will now review the 2017-2018 Budget Report. They will hold a Budget Preview at public meetings in August 2017, following by a public hearing at the first Board of Education meeting in September 2017.
We welcome your feedback regarding the 2017-2018 Budget Report. CLICK HERE to submit your questions and comments via Let’s Talk.