856/769-0144, EXT. 22252 (coleman.t@woodstown.org )

Superintendent’s Message

Budget 2015-2016

“The more things change,

the more they stay the same” 

This upcoming year we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the current High School/Middle School building. The construction of this building marked the beginning of Woodstown entering into the modern era of public education, transitioning from a primarily one-room style school house organization, where most children did not venture past the eighth grade to an expanded K-12 larger, publicly funded organization that the new 20th century demanded for America to stay on the cutting edge with the rest of the world’s economies and industrial growth. Our building stands as a hallmark of that important evolution of how we look at and fund public education.  As I reflect on this 100-year anniversary and the budget challenges we face in 2015, I can’t help but think how, given the nature of how we began to fund public education in the early 20th century on a more comprehensive scale, the challenges back then are the same as they are today. For the most part, when you are dependent on public funding provided by the taxpayer to run your organization, that funding is rarely congruent with need. It is the nature, and I believe strength, of our system of creating a thorough and efficient education for everyone.  During the past 100 years, there have been ebbs and flows of good years and difficult ones in terms of our funding. With the inception of the 2% cap, the challenging years have become more frequent for us as each year uncontrollable costs increase, yet revenues fall short because of the aforementioned limitations on our being able to increase our revenue stream. For the past five years, we have become very efficient and creative in being able to find ways to decrease costs and find alternate sources of revenue. Unfortunately, as each year passes, the 2% cap continues to have a compounding effect in the negative sense as it does not keep pace with the annual increase in uncontrollable costs such as health care, energy, special education, and salaries. Once again, this year we are faced with a $178,000 decrease in revenue, inclusive of the 2% cap increase, and a $1.4 million increase in expenses. Even when we eliminate any extra expenditures that we can control and keep our spending at the same level as last year, we are still at a $970,000 deficit.  In order to balance the 2015-2016 budget, we have to find additional revenue or make additional cuts. What makes this more challenging is that, as aforementioned, the “rabbits in the hat,” so to speak, are no longer there. So the cuts this year will be more challenging and evident. As in the past, our goal will be to make these cuts in a fiscally prudent manner through cost efficient analysis based on expenditures and their return on investment, with our goal of maintaining the quality of our educational program first and foremost. In looking at our overall organization, one fact we must consider is that our total enrollment since 2011-2012 has decreased by 138 students.  Accordingly, reduction in staff is a reality that will be considered given that our staffing has remained constant or increased slightly during that same period. Once again, staff will only be reduced in a manner that does not have an impact on the overall quality of our programs. In other words, it will not result in overcrowded and unmanageable class sizes. We are hoping that the staff cuts that we make can be reached through natural attrition such as retirement, and staff leaving for a variety of reasons. We will begin by simply not filling those positions before we opt for a reduction in force (RIF) of existing staff. Using that standard, we will still need to decrease other funding in terms of programs. We will have to prioritize these based on impact as compared to other cuts, including additional staff. In the coming weeks, the administrative team will be working on the particulars of how we will be balancing the budget and will present that information to the Board at our 2015 -2016 Budget Public Hearing on April 30th at 7:00 p.m. in the Middle School Multi-Purpose Room. We encourage the public to attend so as to be informed about this year’s budget and use it as an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.  We look forward to seeing you then.

 Thomas A. Coleman, Jr.

April 2015