Now that the 2009 legislative session has concluded, we have been able to begin evaluating the impact on both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets. This memorandum describes what the financial impact of those decisions appears to be for the Granite School District.
Before I begin, I first want to express my gratitude for our legislators’ hard work in crafting budgets that are aimed at lessening the financial impact on the children of our state. Public education could have faced a 14-17 percent cut in revenue if one-time money had not been used to compensate for the economic downturn of state revenues. I also want to give credit to Governor Huntsman for his leadership in working with the state legislature. The governor allocated one-time federal funds of $298 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to soften the impact of the state revenue declines for FY 2009 and FY 2010.
Legislative Budget Reductions for the current 2008-2009 School Year (Senate Bill #4)
Due to declining revenues, the legislature was forced to reduce the state FY 2008-09 Minimum School Program budget. Granite’s share of this reduction is approximately $6.3 million. The law allowed these cuts to be taken from 2007-08 carryover funds from restricted categorical budget accounts. Unfortunately, we do not have this provision in the law for the new FY 2009-10 school budget.
Legislative Budget Reductions for the new 2009-10 School Year (House Bill #2)
By using one-time money as a backfill, and by shifting a greater portion of budget cuts to other state agencies, the legislature was able to reduce the full impact of declining state revenues to the FY 2009-10 Minimum School Program Budget. For 2009-10, the legislature made reductions of nearly $22 million for the Granite District budget. Some of these cuts were specifically identified by the legislature. These included the elimination of the Quality Teaching Block (which paid for 5 ½ days for teacher professional development, student achievement projects, instructional specialists, and mentors) and the Local Discretionary Block (which paid for school technology specialists) and a reduction of funding in the Student Success Block. The legislature also specified that an additional $7.5 million in budget cuts be determined by the local board of education. In addition to these cuts, there was no increase by the legislature in the value of the WPU. With a zero percent increase in the WPU we have no additional funding to meet the normal annual increases in such costs as health insurance and salary steps and lanes. As you can tell, this will be a very difficult budget year.
Given the magnitude of the budget reductions for the 2009-10 school year, it is essential that we have broad discussions and input from everyone. I have asked school principals and department heads to foster such discussions. I am interested in your thoughts and have established several avenues to receive your input. This new blog will be regularly updated with information specific to employees. You can email me here firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com. Recommendations to the board of education are also welcome.
Dr. Stephen F. Ronnenkamp