The North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation’s proposed 2017 budget reflects shrinking revenue, according to information shared during this week’s budget hearing.
Business Manager and Treasurer Guy Richie told the county council the proposal is very similar to what was approved last year, except the dollar amounts are less. The approved 2016 budget is $7.6 million, compared to $7,035,070 proposed for 2017 . Richie says the dip in funding is due to dwindling enrollment. N.J.-S.P. has seen a steady slip in both revenue and enrollment over the past decade. The school board reluctantly approved a reduction in force in the spring after voters rejected a general fund property tax referendum last November. Richie says they also set up a $1.1 million rainy day fund with money from capital projects and transportation. He says it has buoyed the general fund.
“Over the past eight months, we have expended $576,000 less, so with our reductions that are in place, they are working. But at the same time, the receipts in that time frame have been over $700,000 less. So our current cash balance shows at $469,000, but if we had not had the rainy day transfer nor the reductions, we would be negative right now.”
Additionally, enrollment at N.J.-S.P. is down 31 students over this time last year, which will affect the amount of tuition money the corporation gets from the state. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin told the school board Tuesday night she’s in the process of analyzing the data to determine where students went and why.
Richie says told the council enrollment N.J.-S.P. has been declining for the past 14 or 15 years and is expected to continue doing so based on birth rate and aging population data. The council conducts the corporation’s annual budget hearing and approves their proposal since the school board is appointed.
Zupin says the administration will keep a close watch on enrollment and identify potential reductions in force.
“We will look every year about this time, because of the ADM, matching staff with students to get a ratio. It’s something we’re going to have to visit every year and make sure we’re being prudent,” she said.
Several corporations are experiencing declines in enrollment as a result of fewer school-aged children and the state’s open enrollment policy, which allows students to attend classes outside of their home district without paying tuition. Council members asked Zupin at what point the county’s three corporations seriously discuss shared services. She says they’ve talked about it and already have arrangements in place for vocational programs.