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Green Bay Area Public Schools facing projected $36 million budget deficit

The district's chief financial officer says inflation, the state's school funding freeze, increasing staff, and declining enrollment all are contributing factors
Posted at 9:20 PM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 09:20:14-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — School districts across the state and the country are facing tight budgets.

But Green Bay Area Public School District's projected deficit stands out — at about $36 million.

The question Green Bay school district leaders say they are asking themselves: how do they deal with a $36 million deficit over the next few years?

"We want the least impact on student learning," GBAPS chief financial officer Angela Roble said.

Roble says inflation, the state's K-12 school funding freeze, increasing staff, and declining enrollment are all contributing causes to its projected shortfall.

"When you decline in enrollment, right, that equates to less revenue coming into the district," Roble said.

The district receives $10,000 per student.

But Roble says over the last few years, it has lost about 2,300 students.

"Families just aren't having as many children as they used to," Roble said.

Based on projections through 2024-25, the school district will be taking in less money while spending more every year.

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A closer look at GBAPS' projected budget deficit through 2024-25.

"We have to start doing the work," Roble said. "And we have to start planning, and reducing."

Executive director of finance Sara Noah says the district has already cut some administrative positions.

"It's not just expenditure reductions happening in the schools," Noah said. "It's also happening at the district office."

The district was given roughly $72 million in ESSER funds — or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money — to help fill the gaps.

Roble says the district has about $50 million of ESSER funds set aside.

"Which we strategically placed because we knew what was coming," Roble said.

However, those ESSER dollars need to be used up by September 2024.

Roble says it would be helpful if the state provides more aiding costs for special education.

But according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report, state reimbursement for special education has dropped for decades.

"We spend almost $33 million for special education," Roble said.

It's no secret schools across the state are facing budget problems.

"Our issue is just magnified a little bit more," Roble said.

An issue worth $36 million.

In May, the Wisconsin Policy Forum published a report highlighting the financial outlook for Milwaukee Public Schools and the Madison Metropolitan School District. More information can be found here.