Last updated on 2011.01.21
Here's some quick local perspective on Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposed 10% cut in the state budget. Now note, as Governor Daugaard said during his budget address this afternoon, a 10% cut in state aid to K-12 education translates into just over a 5% cut in the total budget for schools, assuming their local and federal dollars remain the same.
Back in December, Madison Central superintendent Vince Schaefer estimated that former Governor Rounds's proposed 5% cut in state aid would have cost Madison $275,000. Governor Daugaard's proposal cuts 10% from state aid, $480 per student. Multiply that by Madison's 1150 kids, and Madison loses $552,000 in state aid.
Now suppose we eat that cut and don't raise local taxes---i.e., we don't triple our current opt-out. How do we cut $552,000 from our school budget?
- We could cut all extracurricular activities---basketball, gymnastics, debate, everything outside of the classroom---but that only makes up $357,000 of the shortfall. Nearly $200,000 to go.
- It's more likely we make up the difference by cutting staff. According to the LAIC, Madison Central employs 126 people. Cut every employee's salary by $4380, and we're covered. According to the 2010-2011 budget, the average teacher salary is around $42,800. $4380 off next year's paycheck is over a 10% pay cut.
- Instead of spreading the pain, we could just fire some people. If we start at the top (and this includes coach pay), we have to fire the seven highest-paid employees---Vince Schaefer ($96,770), Dan Walsh, Cotton Koch, Sharon Knowlton, Paula Kingery, Bud Postma, and Cindy Callies ($58,948)... and we'd still have to cut $25,000 more.
- Or let's fire from the bottom up: $552,000 covers the salaries of the eighteen lowest paid certified staff and coaches. Tina Denne, Joey Leisinger, Kristine Waba, Jennifer Fleming, Kelly Swenson, Nicole Gabriel, Nancy Falor, Renae Prostrollo, and several more... all gone.
Consider also the school's proposed new gym and high school renovation, a $16.98 million bond issue on which we vote February 1, at least six weeks before we will know the final disposition of our state aid. Amortize $16.98 million out over 25 years. Assume 5% interest (your mileage may vary). If I'm calculating correctly (Mrs. Callies, feel free to drop by and straighten me out), that translates into an annual debt load of $849,000.
The governor's proposed cut is 65% of the revenue we need to cover the first year's payments on the new gym and HS fix-up.
I am not prepared to ascribe to Governor Daugaard an intention to devastate K-12 education or local economies, any more than I think the doctor coming to amputate wants to kill the patient. I will accept for now the proposition that Daugaard is single-mindedly focused on eliminating the state budget deficit in one year.
But whatever the governor's motivations, these numbers show the practical impact of these deep cuts on local education. And we're not even considering impacts on DSU programs, on local kids paying tuition throughout the state university system, on Medicaid recipients and the doctors they serve, on our state parks, on laid-off public workers who pack up their families and look for work across the border....
Uff da. Put on your grown-up pants: this will be a serious budget debate.
Update 21:02 CST: Tea Area superintendent Jerry Schutz agrees: pass the Daugaard budget, and you'll see school staff cuts and opt-outs.