SJSD to Ponder Budget Cuts to Close $7.5 Million Gap

The St. Joseph School District's Board of Education had its first meeting Monday night since a $11.5 million annual tax levy for the schools was soundly defeated at the polls.

Posted: Nov. 13, 2017 11:40 PM
Updated: Nov. 16, 2017 12:54 PM

There was a somber tone at the St. Joseph School District's Board of Education Meeting Monday night. Hanging over everyone's head was last week's levy defeat at the polls, which failed on a 72-28 percent vote.

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Much of the disussion at the meeting was how to close a projected $7.5 million budget gap for the 2018-19 school year. It was noted that 82 percent of the district's budget is on salaries and benefits and if cuts are made, it will probably involve staffing.

"We tried to be as positive as we could (during the campaign)," said Martin Rucker, board president. "We didn't want people to feel as though we were putting their backs up against the wall or threatening them to vote. But, now I think we're at that point where I think we're going to have to make some cuts and that's never a good word."

The district's finance director warned that there could be some upcoming cashflow issues to meet payroll because of low reserves.

Board members say the plan now is to get some more feedback from the public to find out where they went wrong with the levy vote.

"Getting beat is okay in some instances," Rucker said. "If it's close, you know there's some things to shore up and you have an idea of what it is you need to do. In this case we got beat pretty bad. We have to regroup and find out what it is and maybe bring something back later."

Board members did say there could be a possibility of bringing another tax question to voters next year.

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