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NLS to examine possible budget reductions for '08-09, '09-10

NEW LONDON -- New London-Spicer Schools will examine its budget during the next few weeks to find any possible budget reductions for the remainder of the 2008-09 school year and for 2009-10.

The New-London Spicer School Board on Monday directed Superintendent Paul Carlson to search for any reductions in school programming or teaching positions to combat a likely reduction in the district's student enrollment, and therefore, a reduction in district funds.

According to Carlson, the district will endure a substantial drop in enrollment during the 2009-10 school year. In June, Carlson said, the district will lose 140 students to graduation while gaining only 115 kindergarten students. Carlson also said next year's ninth-grade class coming into high school will have 109 students.

The enrollment decrease means fewer enrollment-related funds from the state, Carlson said. He also said the district doesn't expect much state aid next year because of an unprecedented budget deficit the state legislature will try to balance before June.

"We don't know what the legislative process will bring us in reductions," Carlson said.

No dollar amount was specified for the administration's budget examination. Carlson said it was best to leave it unspecified so the district could find the largest value in budget cuts, but also the most practical.

The School Board unanimously passed the resolution for the budget examination.

Contrary to the call for budget cuts, district voters passed a referendum in November calling for a $597-per-student operating levy. The district's approval increased the current operating levy by $200 per student. Consequently, the new operating levy won't go into effect until 2010, which makes the remainder of this school year and next year's budgets suspect to large alterations created by the state legislature.

Also during Monday's meeting, Carlson told the School Board about the federal government possibly sending more funding to school districts within the next year.

The House is debating a federal stimulus bill that includes more funding for the nation's school districts, Carlson said. If passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, Carlson said, special education, district construction projects and Title I's No Child Left Behind Act would receive additional funding.