Despite expecting a $952,000 increase in general fund revenue for the 2019-2020 school year, Albany County School District No. 1 administrators aren’t hopeful they’ll be able to afford all the budget priorities identified by the district’s committees without running a deficit
That’s partially because the district will need to increase its contributions to the state’s retirement program. An increase in the cost of employees’ health insurance through the Wyoming Educators’ Benefit Trust is also expected to cost the district an extra $300,000.
Superintendent Jubal Yennie has also asked the school board to support a slight pay raise for employees through the district’s “step and grade” policy. Business Manager Ed Goetz is projecting a “step” for all employees to cost $579,663.
Another district committee focusing on athletic and activity stipends is also proposing pay modifications for coaches that would cost an extra $71,000.
Board member Jason Tangeman, who sits on the stipend committee and was one of the district’s four “no” votes in February on offering softball at Laramie High School, has already said he’s unlikely to reconsider his vote on softball unless the board commits to increasing coaching stipends.
The school board plans to take a procedural vote Wednesday on whether it will re-vote on approving softball in August.
If the board chose only to fund the increases to salaries, coaching stipends and benefits, Goetz said that would likely mean the district would run a deficit of $165,764.
As a result, he suggested that employees pay for a third of the increased expenses for retirement and health insurance.
“Doing those two things pretty much puts us at break even,” Goetz said.
The district’s technology committee is requesting $130,000 to replace aging equipment. Last month, Goetz said the board’s technology budget, which has faced significant cuts in recent years, should be a top funding priority of the board. On Wednesday, however, Goetz walked backed that stance after the district’s budget challenges became more clear.
“I guess I just don’t see that as being possible with all of our other desires,” he said. “If we hadn’t see any legislative cuts, we wouldn’t be sweating these issues at all.”
The first draft of a roughly balanced budget, however, doesn’t account for all positions the district might consider adding.
Goetz did say the board members could opt to pay for the technology upgrades through its reserves.
“When it’s a one-time purchase of equipment, and not ongoing salaries or benefits, I think that it’s fine,” Goetz said.