Brown Deer re-balances budget after unforeseen costs
Higher salaries, insurance enrollment necessitate boost to district's general fund
Brown Deer — Higher than anticipated salaries to both attract and retain teachers, as well as higher enrollment in the district's health insurance plan led staff to present an adjusted budget to the Brown Deer School Board.
The board on Tuesday passed the 2013-14 budget that will be presented to the electorate at the district's annual meeting in October. It reflected a handful of adjustments compared with the budget passed by the Finance and Facilities Committee in August because the district had to find new revenue streams to account for higher than anticipated costs.
The approximately $19.4 million budget brought forward in August was increased to about $19.67 million, representing a change of $271,000.
Hiring was completed last week and actual salaries ended up almost $100,000 more than initially projected, according to School District documents. The district spent more to hire experienced staff and paid out more money in raises to individual staff members who were in high demand elsewhere. Despite unanticipated costs, the budget is still balanced, said Finance Director Emily Koczela.
Unexpectedly high enrollment in sixth grade also required the School District to add teachers.
The district replaced 30 staff members for the 2013-14 school year and hired six new staff members. In the transition, more people enrolled in the district's health insurance plan, which also costs the district more money, Koczela said.
"There was nothing unusual, just more people taking health insurance," she said.
School Board President Gary Williams questioned whether the Affordable Care Act, which is about to go into effect, contributed to the increase of enrollment into the insurance plan. Koczela said it is most likely a result of new staff members choosing to enroll, whereas the staff that left the district may not have been using the district insurance. She said any cost changes associated with the Affordable Care Act wouldn't be realized until next year and should not play a role in the 2013-14 budget.
The budget continues to reflect essentially no tax levy increase, except for a 0.38 percent increase as part of the referendum funding approved by voters in November 2011. Therefore, the unanticipated costs had to be found elsewhere in the budget.
"The budget is still balanced, we have a little wiggle room just not as much as we thought we did a month ago," Koczela said.
A combination of lowered costs and higher revenues were used to balance the budget. Initially, the district was projecting a drop in out-of-district students because the School District graduated more Open Enrollment students than they accepted for the current school year. In early budget projections, it was anticipated that revenue for out-of-district students would drop as a result.
However, a preliminary count shows the number of out-of-district students remains virtually unchanged because there are about 40 students attending Brown Deer schools on tuition waivers, which adds revenue to the budget that was unaccounted for previously.
Students on a tuition waiver are students who started in the district and have since moved out of Brown Deer. They can use a tuition waiver to continue to attend school in Brown Deer. The district is waiting on counts from the Milwaukee Public School district before numbers can be finalized.
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