Sandwich schools face big cuts, higher fees
By Pat Wallis For The Beacon-News January 25, 2013 6:44PM
Fees for football players and members of the band, for teens in driver's education and at all grade levels, will be going up in the Sandwich School District next year. . | Sun-Times Media File
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:54AM
SANDWICH — The financial outlook for the Sandwich School District is dismal, according to an assessment by Superintendent Rick Schmitt.
And it could result in cuts to programs, services and staff.
Schmitt said that the state owes the Sandwich School District $724,968, and that during the 2013-14 school year he expects revenues to fall far below estimated expenses — putting the district at least $600,000 in the red.
“When the voters approved the education fund referendum in 2003, the board made a commitment to allocate the additional funds toward salaries to recruit and retain staff, to shore up the operations and maintenance fund, to pay down the deficit, and begin to build reserves for a rainy day,” Schmitt said.
He said that since the referendum, decreases in home values and resulting decreases in tax receipts have dried up extra funds that the district had been using to fill budget gaps.
“With the equalized assessed valuation and state funding decreasing beyond our control, without significant reductions in our expenditures, the overall fiscal year 2014 projected fund balance is estimated to be $600,000 in the red, and the education fund balance is projected to be even worse,” Schmitt said.
The budget gap means the School District will need to change how it does business, he said.
“Unfortunately, we can’t hang on any longer without additional revenue,” Schmitt said. “Therefore, serious cost reduction measures, such as in the way we deliver programs and services will have to be implemented, including but not limited to reductions in staffing, programs and services,” Schmitt said.
Fees going up
The School Board also approved several fee increases for the 2013-14 school year. Enrollment fees will increase $5 for most categories, drivers education will increase by $75, and the price of a hot lunch will go up by 10 cents.
Following the increases, enrollment fees for early childhood and half-day kindergarten will be $65; for full-time kindergarten through fifth grade, $110; for grades six through eight, $185; and for grades nine through 12, $195.
Additionally, drivers education will now cost $250. Band fees will range between $45 and $60.
Student athletes in grades five through eight will pay $60 per sport with no maximum. High school athletes will pay $70 per sport. A parking permit will cost $75, and summer school will cost $115 per course.
Hot lunch will cost $2.60 for kindergarten through fifth grade and $2.70 for sixth through twelfth grades.