After talking over its financial priorities for the upcoming school year at its Monday meeting, the Eau Claire school board will then discuss potential revenue generators to help the district grapple with a tight budget.
In May, the district projected an estimated $5.8 million deficit for the 2018-19 school year, a reality school officials say occurs most years. This year’s deficit comes less than two years after an $87.9 million referendum that provided money for teacher pay raises and additional employees to maintain smaller class sizes.
Board President Joe Luginbill and Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Hardebeck said they’ve spent the last few months researching ways to up the district’s financial resources independently without relying on state aid. Their research included conversations with various educational leaders and entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and across the nation, Luginbill said.
“We’re really looking for Monday night to be an opportunity for the board to have a conversation about comprehensive revenue planning,” Luginbill said, “and to get some plans in motion as to how, as a school district, we can systemically address revenue planning and think outside the box.”
Areas of discussion will include new educational programs, public-private partnerships and assessing real estate and development potential, he said.
“As far as I’m aware,” he added, “it’s the first time the district is going to be taking a comprehensive look at revenue and having that full discussion as a board.”
At Monday’s meeting, the board will also look at updating its outdated policy on reporting threats of violence.
The district’s current policy was last edited in 2000 and only addresses bomb threats. Proposed changes to the policy include specific procedures for reporting threats in the case one should arise.
“As anyone would tell you, even just a community member, there are more than just bomb threats we have to be looking at,” Luginbill said. “It’s a digital issue, a community issue. We really have to look at the big picture.”
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