Facility Condition and Capacity Study Update – August 4, 2017

During the past three years, Natrona County School District has worked diligently to develop a multi-year comprehensive budget plan by implementing proactive measures to shrink the District’s Operations in the interest of minimizing potential negative effects felt as a result of projected declining enrollment and shrinking revenues.

For the past 15 years, Natrona County School District has completed the state required Annual Facilities Study. This annual study addresses the efficiency and conditions of all school and non-school facilities in NCSD. Due to the downturn in the economy, and subsequent declining enrollment, there was a significant need to accelerate proposed components of the annual study.

In summer of 2016, NCSD began a targeted Facility Condition and Capacity Study in response to a projected decrease in K-12 Education revenues from the State of Wyoming. Based on the results of Phase One of this ongoing study, in October 2016, recommended actions were taken to meet the fiscal and efficiency responsibilities of the District. The initial recommendations made by the committee were accepted by the NCSD Board Construction Steering Committee and Board of Trustees which resulted in the closing of Grant and Mills Elementary Schools, as well as the disposal of Fairgrounds Center and Roosevelt High School.

As part of a proactive response to continued projected decreases in K-12 Education revenues, long-term planning and reduction approaches to budget development are needed over the next several years.

Budget reduction strategies will be acted on as they are developed and the implementation criteria are met or available.  For example, approximately 75 positions have recently been eliminated through attrition or reassignment resulting in approximately a 4% reduction in personnel costs – which makes up nearly 85% of the NCSD Operational Budget. The reassignment process has assisted in dedicated measures to avoid lay-offs and will be an ongoing part of NCSD’s budget planning.

In addition to other budget reduction measures, the Facility Condition and Capacity Study will continue to review all schools and non-school facilities in the District moving forward for the purpose of assessing existing facilities for potential consolidation and/or closure.

The study reviews current student capacity, facility condition, enrollment trends, available seats per site, number of staff per site, site conditions, geographical location, and special programming at schools.

Newer elementary school construction projects seen at Lincoln, Bar Nunn, and Journey schools were approved by the state during a period of enrollment increase and before the current economic downturn. The Capital Construction funding earmarked for these projects was specifically designated and approved by the state 5 years ago, during times of increased projected enrollment in NCSD. The State of Wyoming has not approved the construction of any new schools for the past 3 years in NCSD.  These additions and new construction significantly increased the capacity (available seats) in the District.

In light of a three year trend of decreasing elementary enrollment and excess capacity of elementary seats across the district and in efforts to continue be sensitive to budget constraints, facility maintenance, and excess capacity, there is a need to right size District facilities.

NCSD recognizes the profound affect and impact this study has on students, parents, neighborhoods, communities, and district personnel. Our staff is preparing a range of strategies that can be used to respond to a reduction in funding from $12 million dollars to as high as 25% or $48 million dollars, which represents NCSD’s share of the total projected shortfall in state education funding.  We will continue to be transparent in our on-going work towards creating strategies to do our part in remaining fiscally responsible while continuing to maintain a priority focus on student learning.

 

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