Financial cutbacks are forcing the School City of Mishawaka to make some tough calls.
Mishawaka residents got a first look at next year's budget Monday night during a public hearing. The city council must now approve that budget because of a new state statute. While there was no vote, it was clear that lost revenue is taking a toll on the school district.
District business manager Randy Skuadroni gave council members a detailed presentation on the current state of school finances. Slide after slide illustrated the financial troubles. Revenue losses add up to $11 million over the last five years, according to Skuadroni.
Skuadroni said a combination of state funding flat-lining and losing students in the district is what has led to the current situation. And, if they keep seeing these kinds of losses in the years to come, they may have to take some drastic steps like closing down a facility.
"This year we are about 69 students down, which is around $400,000," he said.
Students leaving the school district means that less money goes to each facility. The drop in enrollment has already forced the elimination of an administrative position and several teachers.
At Monday's meeting, it became clear that even more serious cuts could be made if revenue does not go up.
"We're going to be looking at staffing cuts, possibly closing facilities or cutting programs," Skuadroni said. "We don't want to do any of those if we do not have to. It just depends on what our options are."
Council members got a detailed look at the school budget for the first time and that painted a clear picture of just how much these numbers could affect families throughout Mishawaka.
"I know they have made tough choices already," Council member Michael Compton said. "It would affect children, the facilities they go to school in. It is concerning."
Now, money is needed in the budget for vital projects.
"Heating and cooling the buildings is number one, making sure that our roofs do not leak is another one," Skuadroni said.
But, with less and less money each year -- these problems could add up.
"These things compound on each other," Compton said. "When you have a leaky roof, it creates other problems."
School city administration is also keeping in mind the budgetary needs for things like updating technology in the school, which is estimated to cost $2.3 million.
A special report on school city finances indicates that a low number of young families moving into Mishawaka may be to blame for a drop in enrollment.
A second reading of the budget is scheduled for the next council meeting. At that point, council members will be able to approve the budget.