The scalpel, or the axe. In 2016, we asked the community to support our opt out to allow the school to make precise changes that would reduce our costs, but not directly harm our educational programming or negatively impact our students. The community supported the opt out at that time, allowing us to take a precise, surgical approach to reducing costs. Had the opt out been defeated at that time, the reductions would have been more like whacking away at our programming like using an axe. Because the community supported the school seven years ago, it allowed us to find reductions in expense that have had a small impact on the educational programming and our students. Some of the adjustments are relatively small, but some of them are significant adjustments to our expenditures.
- In 2016, the district contracted a service provider for custodial rags, microfiber mops and rugs in the building. As we looked at the cost for the service, we decided to make the investment in our own washing machine/dryer and purchase our own custodial mops, rags and permanent rugs. Our custodians now wash these materials, and outside of the initial purchase costs, replacement of worn out mops and rags has been a minimal cost. Savings to the district is 3-4,000 annually.
- In 2016, our Spanish teacher took a position at another district. We did not feel like we had the enrollment numbers to support a full time replacement. At that time, there was an opportunity for “shared services grants” from the state, to encourage cooperation between districts in close proximity to one another. We applied for the grant with the Baltic School District for a full time Spanish teacher to be split between the two districts. The state paid the entire cost of the position for the first year, 50% the second year and 25% the third year, saving each district approximately $75,000 over three years. We continued the partnership with Baltic for two more years. At that time, Baltic had grown to the point where they felt it was necessary to move that position to full time. We have advertised for a half time Spanish teacher, but the position remained unfilled. At this time, our students take Spanish classes via distance learning, through the NSU e-learning center. Overall, this saves the district approximately $67,000 per year.
- In 2017, the food service fund was in the negative by a little over $90,000. The district worked with Lunch Time Solutions with the goal of breaking even in our food service. In 2019, we no longer needed to subsidize the food service fund with general fund money. In 2020, the revenue generated through the food service program was enough to pay for the entire cost of the program. We expect that to continue in 2023 and beyond. Savings: approximately $90,000 annually.
- In 2018, we compared costs associated with refinishing our gym floors with different vendors. Up until that point, we had spent $9,000 annually in refinishing those wood floors. After exploring different options, we were able to reduce e that cost to around $2,500. Annual savings to the district of approximately $6,000.
- In 2019, we went through the Request For Proposal (RFP) process for our copier lease. At that time, we had a five year lease that was costing us approximately $36,000 per year. After the RFP process, our costs are now closer to $12,000 per year for copier services. Savings to the district is approximately $24,000 annually.
- In 2019, we went through the RFP process for waste services as well. Through the process, we were able to reduce the cost of those services significantly. Annual savings to the district is approximately $6,000.
- In the summer of 2020, we completed a project to replace the old chiller and replace our fluorescent lights with LED lighting. Costs of the improvement were paid through the Capital Outlay fund, but we expect to see savings of between $15,000 and $20,000 in the General fund through reduced energy costs.
In 2016, the Garretson Board of Education made two promises to the community. The first was that of the $500,000 approved for opt out, that the board would only request as much as the school needed. Over the five years that opt out was in place, the budget demanded the full amount the first three years, and then our enrollment went up and the opt out was reduced to $350,000. The board and the district kept its word. The second promise was that we would continue to look for ways to reduce expenditures in areas that have as small an impact as possible on our students. The board and the district held true to this principle as well. As a district, we will continue to explore the different ways that we can reduce our expenditures. We are optimistic that our community will allow us to continue to look at reductions in a targeted, precise manner with the support of the opt out.