Education budget crisis: How have we been impacted?

Much has been reported in the news regarding the 10% across-the-board state cut and other economic problems in our state. Since many of you know that education is 45% of the state budget, it’s natural to start thinking about our situation as an agency and the challenges that may be ahead for us. Many people are wondering just how much money our agency has lost and how we can sustain our current level of service after withstanding a $1.5 million cut.

The answer is, we can’t. Simply put, with a $1.5 million across the board cut, declining enrollment, lagging state revenue and stimulus funds going away after next year, we will have to do things differently.

(Click on the video below to watch Dr. Dean Meier, AEA 267 Chief Administrator, discuss our agency’s budget situation and possible solutions.)

What’s likely to happen?

  • We will need to reduce the budget for 2010-2011 and beyond.
  • We will accept retirements without refilling positions in the majority of cases, which will help greatly.
  • We will need to trim non-personnel related expenses such as travel, equipment, supplies and energy use wherever possible.
  • The 2% allowable growth established by the legislature will likely be adjusted downward.
  • Major budget cuts (10% across-the-board this year) will continue into the foreseeable future.
  • We will still deliver excellent services to the children, families and educators we serve.

What may happen?

  • Some forced layoffs could occur depending upon the number of staff retirements.
  • We may not have allowable growth next year.

What likely won’t happen?

  • We won’t have salary reductions or furloughs the current year.
  • We won’t make knee-jerk reactions to the situation.
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11 Responses to Education budget crisis: How have we been impacted?

  1. Chris Quisley says:

    Thank you for taking the time to make this podcast. I know this information needs to reach all of AEA267 in a timely manner and using a podcast accomplishes that and still makes it more personal then just an email or paragraph in the intersections. Thanks again.

  2. Kevin Scharper says:

    Dr. Dean & AEA staff: I thought the podcast was a good way to communicate these types of concerns. We all need to do our part. A question I have after the podcast is: Is the AEA offering any type of “incentive” for one to retire at this point? I have not been made aware of such in the past, but I have heard more LEA’s considering these options as they deal with the across the board cuts. Thanks.

  3. Marcia Tweeten says:

    Dean and AEA Administrative Team:

    Thank you for your attention to the need to communicate with us. The LEAs and AEAs are experiencing second order change right now and will continue to in the next few years. Communication helps everyone to work through the change. The way that we, as an agency, do business will definitely have to look different in the future for everyone. Helping us to see that in advance is appreciated. Thank you again for taking your time to communicate with us.

  4. Connie Mettlin says:

    As I have suggested before and will again, we need to be creative in the ways we need to do cuts to stay alive. I have suggested in the past to cut travel; Dr Dean said we need to cut mileage and car pool when we can, etc. With the number of employees we have, it would still seem logical to me to base people in schools closer to their homes so the mileage is minimal and this wouldln’t be such a BIG expense to the AEA since AEA doesn’t get reimbursed money for mileage. The other option is to let people work from home for one day a week, thus meeting Dean’s statement to “Use technology to communicate with people you need to in order to do your work.” Thus, saving AEA money and giving our districts what they need even though we aren’t there.

    I am really sorry we have come to the point of having to look at budget cuts and possible lay-offs if we don’t get enough resignations and retirements, but it seems to be where we are at currently. I hope that things improve soon and we don’t have to look at these options.

    I feel, like what Kevin Scharper said above, that maybe we need to offer ‘incentives to those who are near retirement a nice package for retirement.” Some schools have been willing to continue health insurance for 3 years and a salary for one before the retiree applies for Social Security or IPERS. I know that means money, but whatever incentives can be thought about may help in the longer run. Or, pay the insurance costs like what is going on now and have the retiree pay the balance just like it comes out of their check now! Check with the schools; some have been very creative in their packages to their potential retirees. If you make it nice enough, we may be able to get through this without laying people off. Because that would mean that our laid off people would be hurting like the rest of the people in our economy. We all have families and it would hurt our families. also.

    But, when we have less people that means those that are left, have more to do on less time in the districts and more time on the road. Communicaton via eletronic means may become more of the norm that the abnormal.

    Thanks for the ‘heads up.” I hope tings go better than we anticipate! Connie Mettlin

  5. Dean Meier says:

    In response to Kevin Scharper’s question, AEA 267 does not have an early retirement plan in place at this time. Early retirement plans do not work as well for AEAs as for our local districts. Local districts are allowed to levy a special property tax levy (management levy) to fund the cost of early retirement bonuses, AEAs cannot, and thus must cover the cost of the early retirement bonus with General Fund dollars.

  6. Debra Price says:

    Thank you for doing the podcast so that all employees hear the same message. I really appreciate the information and the directness of your message.

  7. Rob Coates says:

    As I’ve suggested before, the best way to get more employees to retire early is to offer some incentive, even if it’s a modest incentive. I believe a small early retirement incentive would cause many who are on the fence at the moment to decide on early retirement.

  8. Cindy Campbell says:

    I too thank you for your frankness and your willingness to do this podcast to get the same message out to all staff. Concerning reducing travel time, I wholeheartedly agree that this would be a great thing to do. In our discipline we have not figured out a good way to do that considering the number of staff we currently have and the number of schools that have to be covered. I am very concerned about this in the future with several impending retirements when we are already stretched so thin as it is. Even if the agency allows us to fill these vacated positions I am afraid that the people are not available for hire due to our low salaries as compared to other settings for which our disciplines are employed. I feel that we are facing a no-win situation.
    Thank you for your time!

  9. Belinda Blackburn says:

    One of the things I have always appreciated about AEA 267 is our ability to look for solutions. Dr. Meier reminds us that we are a resilient group of people, dedicated to serving our children, families and schools with a high degree of professionalism. We are experiencing some difficult times but we are in a better position than many.

    As we consider solutions to our situation, I agree with Marcia’s comments about second order change. Are we REALLY making second order changes? What are we doing to work smarter not harder? Are we using the skills and time of our staff to fullest advantage? Can our technology assist us in maintaining positive working relationships while completing the work we are charged to do? What resources are we using to meet the needs of our customers?

    I believe that when we stay focused on solutions we will find them. Perhaps this is a time to ask our staff for ideas and guidance about how we can provide quality services with limited resources.

  10. Barb Brainard says:

    I agree with Belinda that now may be a good time to ask staff for ideas and guidance about ways to reduce costs. Perhaps a ‘suggestion box’ could be located in each office for staff to provide their input.

  11. Kim King says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights via podcast. I agree with Belinda that we are a resilient & creative group of individuals. We all have many different talents, skills, & ideas. There may be solutions that haven’t yet been explored or even considered. After reading Belinda’s post, I’m wondering about the concept of a “suggestion” box. I realize that this sounds somewhat juvenile but it is used regularly in business and specifically at John Deere.

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