While the Flandreau School District annual budget is workable this year, a gain or loss of several students and other variables could have a big impact in the future, school board members heard at a long-range planning session last week.
“The big picture is becoming more and more important because we don’t have the resources we’ve had in the past,” said Darren Hamilton, a board member who was the immediate past president. “This is to lay the ground work and get everyone thinking.”
The board recently hired three additional teachers but an increase in student numbers and the nearly $5,000 in tax money that comes with each child has offset the additional expenses of more staff.
While the budget is able to pay for that for now, it can go in the opposite direction just as quickly, said Lisa Sanderson, the district’s business manager who retires next month. “Just as fast as you can gain them, you can lose that as that one snapshot that one day,” she said.
The most current student average daily numbers show 694.28 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, with the partial student including some home school students who just come to participate in band. An additional nine students are in early childhood classes, which do not get support from the state student formula.
The student enrollment on the day the state counts it on the last Friday in September was 701 students plus the nine in early childhood.
The district’s special education student numbers over the past five years have grown by nearly 30 to 97 students this year, when they were counted Dec. 1. Extra money for services for those students has been supplemented by the state in the form of a $269,000 grant, but that money is not guaranteed in the future, administrators said. Flandreau gets that amount out of a total $4 million given out by the state and has gotten money for a few years.
Projections from birth records indicate that 55-56 kindergarteners are estimated over the next three years. But that doesn’t account for new and growing industries which could bring additional families to the district, Superintendent Rick Weber said.
This year, the school district has 103.8 teachers but it also will have to prepare for new state graduation requirements, which likely will require additional high school class offerings. Teacher assignments may change slightly and some classes may be offered in alternating years, for example, to cover the student needs.
The district’s general fund balance of $900,000 has gone down slightly and the district has been allowed to use its capital outlay fund for more expenses under more flexible state rules.
A couple of school board members asked about minimal numbers needed to hold a class, and Weber said the district wants to have at least four in each classroom. Board President Tom Stenger asked for more information on what numbers show this year for class sizes, and the board plans to talk more about future planning as it relates to education and to the budget.
“A lot of the expense side is stacking up, but the revenue side doesn’t be changing that much,” Hamilton said.