After Brookfield Local School District went into fiscal emergency, it cut four teaching positions and a number of nonteaching positions, and reduced several full-time positions to part-time.
“We cut back on a lot of programs,” said Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor. “We went to a different education service center to save some money. We read every contract and renegotiated every contract. It was just every stone we could pick up and look underneath to see if we could find a way to save money, we did.”
Now that the district has been released from state oversight, officials are not looking to recapture what was lost, she said.
“You have to always run the numbers,” she said. “That’s the mentality we’ve had in this district is that as long as we have a little bit of money in the bank, we’re OK.”
The accounting rule of thumb is to have cash equivalent to three months worth of expenses on hand, which, for Brookfield, is about $1.3 million.
“We can’t spend that,” Taylor said, noting that contract negotiations will begin soon with the teachers, and then with the non-teaching staff.
But, officials have a certain level of education they want to provide and they’re not doing it now. How will they get there?
Officials are exploring grant programs and looking at low-cost activities, and working with parents to raise money for specific programs, Taylor said.
“I’m looking hungrily for some things that I know my kids need,” she said. “I think we’re poised to do some things without necessarily costing a lot of extra money.”
Taylor is hungrily pursuing technology to replace and/or update what is on hand, much of which dates to the construction of the school eight years ago.
“We’re entering a shared services agreement with another consortium of districts that will help us make really good and fiscally sound technology decisions,” she said. “We’ll be able to upgrade some of our technology – get more computers in the hands of our kids, and start us on the path toward one-to-one, which the board has said they really want to see.”