Like its sister district that ends up educating some of its students after they finish eighth grade, Lonedell R-XIV may find itself in some financial hardship when work on the 2014-15 budget begins in the near future.
Superintendent Jen Ulrich told board members and The Missourian recently that the kindergarten through eighth grade district may face as much as a $300,000 shortfall in local revenue as well as an additional $200,000 from the state.
“If that happens, we’ll have quite a large gap to fill,” Ulrich said. “I’ve talked to the board about it, and before we make any decisions we’ll have to make sure we’re all speaking the same language.”
The matter was discussed during the March board of education meeting.
“We’re pretty sure we’ll take some kind of hit,” the superintendent said. “We’ll just have to see how things are when the real numbers come in later this year.”
Unlike the St. Clair R-XIII School District, however, Lonedell believes it can weather the storm, at least in 2014-15, without having to cut back programs and staff.
“Some projects may have to be put on hold,” Ulrich said. “But at this point, we’re not looking at any cuts or reductions, including programs and teachers.”
Some of the projects that could be delayed would be paving the new gymnasium parking lot and adding to the district’s technology upgrades.
“We won’t be hasty,” Ulrich said. “We’re still analyzing. We’re taking a long, hard look at everything.”
The superintendent told board members that “preliminary numbers do not look favorable for our district in preparing next year’s budget.”
In explaining the statement, Ulrich said that Lonedell’s assessed valuation has dropped by about 10 percent, thus proportionately reducing local tax dollars by the same 10 percent.
“We lost $3 million in assessed valuation in our community, which equates to $300,000 in local tax dollars,” she said.
Ulrich also said that through the state’s student population count formula, Lonedell’s enrollment dropped by 30 students this year.
“This is at the high school level as our building enrollment has stayed steady,” she said.
However, the drop in numbers means a drop in state assistance. Lonedell currently receives $6,131 per student through the state’s weighted average daily attendance formula. Losing 30 students in the local count adds up to about $180,000 less for the district in state revenue.
“We will start formulating a plan while we’re waiting for more solid numbers,” Ulrich told The Missourian. “We’re sure our revenue will be off quite a bit, so we’ll have to adjust the budget so we don’t run a deficit.
“I think we can dig out of this with some smart long-range planning.”
Lonedell’s current budget is about $4.8 million.