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School district doing due diligence

It appears that Glencoe-Silver Lake’s administration is doing its due diligence in trying to preserve its fund balance.

In a recent workshop session, the administration proposed ways to reduce expenditures by $76,000 to $126,000.
Keep in mind, the school district is still maintaining a healthy fund balance. However, it has been deficit spending the past few years, dipping into its reserves, to preserve programs and, in fact, expand its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program into the elementary grades.
The school district is hoping to — and should — see some efficiences next year when it brings the Helen Baker Elementary students under the Lincoln campus roof with its new additions. And while there were figures thrown out about how much the district could save by the move, they are just best guesses until the district gets a full year in its new building configuration under its belt.
In the meantime, it needs to preserve its minimum fund balance goal, which is 20 percent of its general fund.
That 20 percent target may seem lofty to some, who may propose that it be cut to 15 percent or even 10 percent.
But maintaining that 20 percent minimum — or above — has served the district well the past several years, allowing it to keep programs and even build programs.
However, years of deficit spending and declining enrollment is catching up, and the district needs to look good and hard at its finances.
The elementary music program was considered an early target for helping the district meet its fiscal goals. At the workshop, it appears that the administration and School Board have listened to their constituents and are trying to preserve the program. The proposed budget adjustments now are being driven more by increased efficiency than by simple cuts.
However, it’s obvious that the music program at GSL has blossomed because of its early roots in the elementary grades, and we hope that the board and district will do everything they can to preserve it, and even help it prosper.
It was brought up by a board member at the workshop that perhaps the district should revisit the additions in staffing it made in order to foster its STEM program. While we applaud and encourage board members who take the initiative to propose other options, the STEM program also has flourished in the past year.
We encourage the board to minimize cuts for 2017-18, and use the new school year to analyze the efficiencies its new building configuration brings, examine further the effects of enrollment, and bring a firmer set of financial figures to the table as it considers its 2018-19 budget.
We also encourage it to keep holding workshops focusing on just the budget. Those kinds of workshops allow a more well-rounded discussion, a greater ability to present and digest information, and a better foundation for future decisions.
— L.C.

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