Westside officials have done the math, and initial numbers indicate the district could see a budget shortfall of about $5 million during the 2013-14 school year.

Andy Rikli, an assistant superintendent, said that projection may turn out to be a bit high.

The district, however, has to budget prudently, he said, given that many variables in the equation still are in play.

Rikli and other Westside administrators addressed about a half-dozen community members Tuesday at the first of three information sessions this month on the district’s budget process. Administrators also are outlining educational priorities and seeking input on them from the public.

Westside’s revenues are expected to increase about 2.9 percent next year, Rikli said. Like many school districts, Westside’s main sources of revenue are property taxes and state aid.

Property values, upon which property taxes are based, are expected to be relatively flat, Rikli said, up less than 1 percent. State aid, which will be a topic of discussion during the coming Nebraska Legislature session, is scheduled to increase 10 percent under a state funding formula. But legislators have signaled that the increase will be closer to 5 percent.

On the expense side, Westside anticipates an increase of about 5.7 percent, Rikli said. That includes salary increases and increases in insurance costs and retirement contributions as well as transportation and other expenses associated with open enrollment under the two-county Learning Community.

Rikli said the district has faced bigger potential shortfalls over the last several years, particularly as federal stimulus dollars have run out.

It ended up in the black in 2011-12, due to some revenue increases and spending cuts. The district has trimmed about 18 positions through attrition over the past two years, reduced teacher aid positions and renegotiated vendor contracts, among other cuts.

But he and other administrators noted that the projected shortfall comes on the heels of trims in previous years, making additional cuts more difficult.

Meantime, Superintendent Blane McCann has led administrators through a strategic planning process over the past several months to identify educational priorities. The process is based on a model used by NASA during the Apollo mission and by a number of corporations, including First National Bank and ConAgra Foods.

The district also will be asking staff, the school board, parents and community members for input.

“It’s really about a reallocation of resources (so we can) continue to be the best district we can be,” McCann said.

The two other public meetings will be 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Westbrook Elementary, 1312 Robertson Drive, and 6 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Westside High School Little Theater, 87th and Pacific Streets.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1223, julie.anderson@owh.com

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