By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Although a range of unknowns loom on the horizon, Whitewater Unified School District officials expressed optimism in the district’s finances in the 2020-21 school year.

Business Manager Matthew Sylvester-Knudtson presented the School Board with a draft version of the fiscal operating plan for the year ahead at a meeting March 30.

Based on his forecasting models, Sylvester-Knudtson said he anticipated WWUSD having a surplus in the range of $553,000 to $1.64 million. The low end was under a category described as “more conservative”; the high end was deemed “less conservative.”

Speaking to the “less conservative” model, Sylvester-Knudtson said it took into account a range of factors, including no increases in employee wages or in such big ticket items as health and dental insurance costs.

“I would say it’s a pretty unrealistic scenario at this point,” Sylvester-Knudtson said of the $1.64 million surplus.

Regardless of the model, the discussion of a “surplus” means WWUSD officials are anticipating bringing in more revenue than projected expenses in the 2020-21 school year budget. The surplus dollars likely would go into the fund balance for future use.

In a big-picture sense, Sylvester-Knudtson and other WWUSD administrators are anticipating stable enrollment in the 2020-21 school year — a figure that will play into the district’s taxing authority and, over time, how much funding comes in from the state Department of Public Instruction.

In recent months, administrators have been looking at various funding requests and proposals for the upcoming fiscal period.

District Administrator Jim Shaw said some of the spending proposals — including athletic field improvements and new camera equipment to record School Board proceedings — took a backseat to continue serving WWUSD’s core needs.

“What we wound up concentrating on is the learning needs of our students,” Shaw said. “We want our kids to learn, and that’s how we whittled down our budget.”

 

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