Francis Howell parents to get update on budget talks - KMOV.com

Francis Howell parents to get update on budget talks

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

At Thursday night’s regularly scheduled Francis Howell Board of Education meeting, three task forces recently formed to look at cost savings measures will present an update, according to a district spokesperson. 

The budget is under the microscope after voters twice voted down a tax increase within two years. Prop Howell was on the ballot in November 2016.

“The district has cut $12 million in the past two years and $20 million in the past five years. That’s 100 full-time positions in the past two years and 190 full-time positions since 2008,” said Matt Deichmann, Chief Communications and Community Relations Officer for the district. “Prop Howell wasn’t so much about preventing future cuts as it was restoring some of the things the district already cut.”

Since then, the board of education asked the administration to form three task forces. Two would study potential cuts to transportation and extracurricular activities. The third is looking at non-tax revenue.

As far as transportation goes, walk-zones are still on the table.

“The task force will look at which buildings, potentially, could have pedestrian traffic and that would be a reduction in bus transportation,” said Deichmann.

He said in order to qualify, certain infrastructure has to be in place like sidewalks, stoplights, and crosswalks. He added that bus service has already been cut for “Transition Day” in August, which is when elementary kids get a taste of middle school and middle school students check out the high school.

“That alone will save the district $43,000.” said Deichmann.

The second task force, looking at extracurricular activities, is exploring a fee model and if some programs need to be cut altogether.

Finally, the third task force is looking at non-tax revenue.

“The district is trying to identify creative ways to generate additional revenue,” said Deichmann. That could include advertising, naming rights, or facility usage rentals.

There are a few things helping balance the budget for now. Deichmann said Parent-Teacher Organizations have really stepped up, raising nearly $100,000 this year, earmarked for technology upgrades.

Property values are also up throughout the St. Charles area, which means more tax revenue, but district leaders caution they won’t see those additional funds as quickly as many might think and the ratio isn’t one-to-one.

Still, spending is happening in the district. The board approved the hiring of nine support counselors.

“We know students our need social and emotional support in the classroom. When they are disruptive, that not only affects them but also the education of other kids. The district felt the need to hire them to improve classroom instruction,” said Deichmann.

Deichmann said more budget cuts could still come in the 2017-2018 school year or 2018-2019.

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