Walworth Jt. School District #1 hosted a Community Information Meeting on November 3, 2022, in the school multipurpose room. The event, which started at 6:00 pm, lasted about an hour and representatives from numerous stakeholder groups were there, including, but not limited to: parents, community members, school board members, teachers, and school administrators.
At the meeting participants introduced themselves and Phill Klamm, district administrator, outlined the plan for the meeting. The plan included:
The purpose of the meeting: The District needs your feedback as we consider upcoming financial constraints.
The District’s Mission: To Provide the Best Education for ALL Students
The District’s Theme: Better Together
The Topic for the Meeting: 2023-2024 Budget
Administrative Presentation on 2023-2024 Budget
Timeline & Outlook
Questions & Answers
During the administrative presentation, Mr. Klamm shared that the District is estimating approximately a $1 million decrease in its general fund revenue for the next school year (2023-2024). Klamm went on to state that over the last four years state aid to Walworth has fallen by over $700,000 and local taxes have been reduced by about $75,000.
After highlighting the upcoming revenue challenges, Klamm mentioned the current impact on district expenses due to high inflation, listing expenses such as paper, transportation, heating, and property insurance that have risen dramatically due to inflation.
Regarding enrollment, the District shared that enrollment has dropped by about 24 students since the 2018-2019 school year and that the last three years have been relatively stable. Open enrollment figures showed the District improving from -13 students in 2018-2019 to +22 students currently (an improvement of 35 students).
In other information, Klamm shared that staff salaries and benefits accounted for approximately 80% of the district's general fund (after open enrollment adjustment) and that this percentage was similar to other school districts.
Next, information was shared regarding the timeline for addressing the upcoming financial constraints. Klamm noted that one of the more challenging budget issues for school districts is that typically the state budget (which provides the majority of the funding to schools like Walworth) is signed after the budget year actually starts. He noted that the two previous state biennium budgets were signed on July 3, 2019, and July 8, 2021.
In addition to the possibility that the state budget is not signed until July, Klamm noted that with a majority of the general fund being utilized in staff salaries and benefits, a reduction of nearly $1 million would require severe staff reductions. He shared that the District has already reduced ten full time and three part time teachers in the last eight years and reduced eight full time support staff positions to nine part time support staff positions (some working as little as three hours per day). He also shared that the District is currently understaffed and that student needs are high and expected to continue increasing. If the District chose to reduce teachers, the state requires that teachers receive a preliminary notice of non-renewal on or before April 30, 2023, and they receive a final notice of non-renewal on or before May 15, 2023.
With regard to increasing revenue, Klamm shared relevant dates for a possible referendum if the School Board would so choose. Klamm said the only available date for a referendum that would assist with the funding issue in 2023-2024 is the election scheduled for April 4, 2023, and a final resolution for that would need to be passed by the Board of Education by January 24, 2023.
Throughout the presentation participants asked questions, shared thoughts, and gave suggestions for the District to consider. Mary Heyer, school board president, asked how the information from this meeting could be shared with others not at that meeting and Mr. Klamm said that there would likely be a news article written and published on the District’s website and social media channels in addition to the possibility of future meetings.
The upcoming meetings that were mentioned and shared at the Community Information Meeting are:
Monday, November 14, 2022, at 5:30 pm - Finance Committee - School Library
Monday, November 28, 2022, at 6:00 pm - Board of Education - School Library