By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist
The most important day, financially, for a school district is the Average Daily Membership Day, “ADM.” Sometimes known as “Count Day,” this is the day when student enrollment is taken and used by the state to determine tuition support funding for the entire school year.
This year’s ADM Day took place on Friday, Sept. 14. While I wish that I had positive news of enrollment to report, unfortunately, I do not.
The official ADM for school year 2017-2018 was 1,878 students. The ADM for school year 2018-2019 is 1,792 students. This translates into a loss of 86 students as compared with this time last school year.
The ADM Day determines tuition support funding for all public schools in Indiana.
The tuition support funding through what is called a “basic grant” is the primary source of revenue for the district’s general fund. The general fund is the fund that pays the salaries and benefits for almost all employees in the school district.
When the number of students counted for the ADM day is down, the number of funds receipted for the school district’s general fund is proportionally down.
Our school district conducted a comprehensive study nearly two years ago that analyzed historical enrollment data. We also forecast enrollment data for this school district into school year 2026-2027.
The data has proven rather compelling. Over the last 10 years, enrollment has fallen to 1,792 students from 2,232 students in 2007-2008. This is a decrease of 440 students.
When we forecast 10 years into the future with a “most likely” forecast strategy, this school district will have an estimated 1,556 students enrolled.
During my first year as superintendent in school year 2016-2017, we experienced a drop in student enrollment that was significant. In response, we set about to implement nearly $1.5 million in budget reductions that were realized in school year 2017-2018.
During school year 2017-2018, we did not realize any more significant reductions in enrollment; however, we continued to reduce the budget to realize more savings. Because we knew our forecasting data was a potential, we have continued to reduce the budget so that our expenses have matched our revenues.
As a result of the budgetary cuts that have been made, for the first time in many years, we were able to retain the cash balance for the general fund in calendar year 2017. We were on track to do the same in 2018; however, the drop of 86 students in enrollment will translate to an unfortunate impact of nearly $500,000 to the general fund as of Sept. 14. As you can imagine, this is a substantial hit to a budget our size.
The bard and I have worked together on this issue and we stand united in a commitment to address these budget concerns so that our expenditures match these reduced revenues.
Because we have fewer students, we need fewer personnel. While certainly not appealing, it’s our responsibility to align the number of personnel employed with the number of students we are serving.
With that being said, the board and I are also united in a commitment to not issue Reduction in Force (RIF) notices to teachers. We believe that we will be able to address our financial issues with several strategies that will reduce our expenditures over time. The most significant of strategies will be the deployment of reduction through attrition. This simply means that when positions become available because someone leaves the district, we don’t fill the position.
This strategy was already tested nearly two weeks ago when a teaching position became open. In this situation, we ended up transferring a teacher to another building and did not replace that teacher’s position. We are committed to continuing this practice for all open positions.
We have a handful of other additional strategies that will also be deployed to assist with getting our budget back on track. These strategies are both from a reduction in expenditures and increase in revenue perspective.
We believe there are significant opportunities for our school district as we begin to implement the $500,000 Ready Schools grant dollars that were recently awarded to our school district from the Regional Opportunities Initiative. We are so excited about this work and are confident that it will translate in positive impact for our schools and community.
I will be talking more about the current financial situation in Brown County Schools during my next Community Conversation taking place this Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in The Goldberg Room at Brown County High School. I will present from 6 to about 7 p.m. and will answer questions from 7 to 7:30 p.m. I promise to have all participants dismissed by 7:30 p.m.
“World Class Opportunities. Small School Relationships. Lifelong Impact.” This is our vision statement and we are proud to make this the reality for all 1,782 boys and girls of Brown County Schools. We ARE Brown County!
Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or [email protected].