R-3 identifies possible 2013-14 budget cuts

Personnel/salary cuts not included in budget reduction process

Last October, the Platte County R-3 School District announced that due to static local revenues and decreasing state revenues, leading to a decrease in recent years in District fund balances, it was embarking on a budget reduction process. The goal: reduce some notable 2013-14 budget expenditures wherever it could while following a set of guidelines designed to maintain goals in student achievement and overall District progress.

The first step in the process was the formation of a budget reduction committee comprised of dozens of students, staff and community members who were tasked with identifying possible budget reduction items and then ranking them on a priority scale. Patrons were also able to make online suggestions through the District’s Web site.

At its meeting last week, the Platte County R-3 Board of Education got a first glimpse of the committee’s list of budget reduction suggestions, ranked from 1 to 23. The suggestions covered a broad spectrum of District operations, administration and curriculum/instruction areas and totaled $802,120, which would represent a budget cut of a little more than two percent of the District’s 2012-2013 operating budget of $37.7 million.

R-3 Superintendent Dr. Mike Reik stressed that the list is meant only to identify possible budget cuts/adjustments if deemed necessary before the 2013-14 budget is adopted in June, not imminent cuts. He said such factors as actual revenue figures and state legislature actions between now and June would predicate if/when the budget reduction suggestions are implemented. Reik also said personnel considerations such as teacher/staff reductions and pay cuts will be dealt with through turnover and attrition and will not be part of the public budget reduction process.

“The budget reduction process, with the help of a community task force, successfully produced a list that can be utilized to maintain the fiscal health of the District,” Reik said.  “Since revenue has been unpredictable, the list allows increased agility as we receive information throughout the budgeting process.”

Tops on the list — or first to be cut, as suggested by the committee’s rankings — was a suspension of the District’s summer painting program, which would cut $12,000 from the budget. It was far from the biggest dollar-amount-item on the list, though. That is the delay of District technology hardware replacement, representing a potential cut of $198,000 and ranked 22nd on the list. Another big expenditure cut on the list was a reduction in number of staff paid personal days, which would slash an estimated $150,000 from the budget. District officials said that suggestion would only be executed after talks/negotiations between the District and teacher/staff organizations.