By Megan Senseney
Webster Groves school district is now preparing for an estimated five percent budget cut for next year. Though it is not yet known what areas of school funding will be cut, school board officials say the cuts could affect the community as well.
“Quality schools create quality neighborhoods,” said Diane Moore, chief financial officer for the district. “The value of our homes and businesses are directly tied to quality schools.”
Though any potential cuts in state funding will not take place until next year, Webster Groves school district superintendent Sarah Riss said school board members continuously look for ways to reduce spending without affecting education.
“We look for ways that will keep it (budget reductions) about as far away from the classroom as we can, and as far away from disrupting any valuable education experiences as we can,” Riss said.
Because the school board has no way of knowing what areas of funding will be cut, the effect on the schools and community depends on the amount of funding that will be reduced and how long the cuts will last. One solution, Riss said, is to make programs self-supporting — using money outside of the regular budget to support the program.
“It may mean charging fees for activities or finding outside support,” she said.
Board of Education President Michael Kearney believes taking these steps are necessary to protect academic performance in the schools. “I think our community understands the issues we’re dealing with, and they’ve shown a tremendous amount of pride in our schools,” he said. “We certainly want to continue delivering value to the community.”