New London school district prepares for 2020

NEW LONDON — The New London Community School District Board of Education met on Tuesday, March 12 for a work session to discussing the district’s financial future.

During the session, Mathew Gillaspie, the managing director of Piper-Jaffary, presented the board with iterative projections for the district and warned of possible pitfalls the district should be aware of and avoid.

According to board secretary Jessica Boyer, the district’s total expenditures have increased roughly 2 percent each year; however, the district has only received 1 percent from the state this past year.

In his analysis, Gillaspie explained that this isn’t inherently a bad thing to do for a short period of time but it begins to injure the school if it continues.

“You can’t let it continue to go on year after year after year,” he said. “If you only get a 2 percent raise at your job and your spouse keeps spending 5 percent, pretty soon those things are going to diverge and you won’t have anything to spend anymore.”

Declining enrollment has put the district on a “State Budget Gareuntee.” The total amount they will receive this year is $33,788, this is 1 percent of the states formula for Suplemental State Aid which each district receives based on their residential district enrollment. According to Boyer, each school receives aid from this formula, however, had they taken the standard 2 percent increase from this formula, it would have resulted in a negative number for the school.

“If we even maintained the or lost a couple of kids, we wouldn’t necessarily be on this budget gaurentee,” Boyer said. “But we lost a lot of students.”

According to Boyer, the district’s residencial student enrollment dropped 21 kids, 1.3 percent in enrollment.

“When we talk about enrollment it’s resident district enrollment,” explained superintendent Chad Wahls. “Even if we have more kids and butts in seats next year it’s about kids (in our district).”

Gillaspie’s biggest recommendation to the board was to make some solid goals that might be implemented over the long term; recommending everyone decide where they want levies, taxes and other adjustable numbers to be year to year.

“I’m assuming you’re all sitting here thinking different things,” said Gillaspie. “Maybe not wildly different, but I’m sure some of you want the taxes to go down as much as possible, and I’m sure some of you want it to be very, very, very consistent, but you can only have one budget.”

Wahls feels the good about where the school is now compared when he came into the job. He said the school is more healthy and he thinks the work session left them with a lot to consider when setting the budget.

“I think we have a unified plan, but like (Gillaspie) said, a little bit different way of getting to that plan,” Wahls said. “I think we all want to continue to provide for our tax payers, we all want to dive a system approach that gets to our tax rate,

The New London School Board will meet on Monday, March 18, to approve their 2019-20 budget.