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Superintendent’s Message

     

 

May 2024

 

Pioneer Families and Community:

I want to inform you that Pioneer is facing a reduction in the 2024-2025 school district budget. At this writing, we face a deficit of over $1.7 million.  The only way to balance our budget and meet our Board policy of a 9% ending fund balance, we need to make some difficult personnel decisions.

There are many factors that contribute to the deficit we are facing.  The state provided a 3.8% increase in apportionment, but increases in insurance rates, utility costs, and supplies surpass this small increase from the state.  We also are sending 91 eight grade students to high school next year and currently have 71 kindergarten students.  Even if we were to enroll another 71 kindergarten students next year, we have a student deficit of 20 students, which equates alone to over $300,000 in lost state revenue.  We also are seeing a reduction in federal funding in our Title 1 grant.  Special education funding continues to create a deficit as the state funds us at 16% while our special education students comprise over 20% of our student population.  Those costs have to be offset with levy dollars.  We also are seeing an increase in employee benefits, especially in the area of insurance rates.

As we developed our strategy for dealing with these budget deficits, the following is our priority list from the least impact being our number one priority and so on down the list.  Virtually every component of our school district operations will be impacted.  Here is the list:

 

  1. Protect certificated classroom staff- based on enrollment and student/teacher ratios.
  2. Special Education Staffing needs- guided by student IEP requirements and student supports.
  3. Para Educator support in classrooms where there is the most need in assisting students.
  4. Other personnel support that impact students.
  5. Student Safety.
  6. Transportation needs for all students.
  7. Building Operations- Including office personnel and support, including health room support.
  8. Maintenance/Custodial Support.
  9. Supplies.
  10. District Operations.
  11. Professional Development/Travel

 

Our top priority, as you can see is to protect our classrooms with certified staff as well as provide required services to our special education students.  As mentioned, all aspects of our district operations will see some level of reduction.

    We are not in this alone as all 295 school districts in our state are facing some form of reduction in funding and services.  However, we are only concerned with the impact on Pioneer, our students, our staff, and our families.

I want to assure you that we will not use this as an excuse, nor will we spend our time wallowing in despair. Instead, our school district will stay committed to providing the best education possible for each and every student.  Our staff will continue to work hard to ensure that every student in our care is getting what they need, both inside and outside of the classroom, as they move through our school district from year to year.

These are difficult times for our staff and these reductions are real and have an impact on our staff and their families.  I understand that. But we also have an obligation to be responsible stewards of the funds we have and accountable for how they are spent. 

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.  I will provide more information as we continue to work on our staffing needs for next year.

As always, my door is open and you can also reach me at: jdavis@psd402.org