Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District is looking to spend about $326 million in the next fiscal year. Here's a simplified look at what's included (and what's not).
Why it matters
- Before you see "budget" and skip over the rest of the story, it's important to remember that all of the money we're talking about here is tax dollars. So, if you're paying property taxes, this is your money at work.
- Most programs next year will be "status quo," Business Manager Todd Vik said. That means they're maintaining the same level of service without significant cuts or expansions.
- One of the largest cuts in this budget is to the athletics program, which includes cutting the entire girls gymnastics program.
- Another big budget change on the horizon is the end of federal pandemic relief funds next year. The district is expected to have more than $8 million in ongoing expenses from programs added or expanded during the pandemic.
"How we do that without a cliff, and how we bring that back down to what feels like normal spending again is tricky business," Superintendent Jane Stavem told the school board last week.
What are some of the big changes?
There aren't many.
Most programs will keep going at the status quo, Vik said, but there are a handful of budget areas that did see significantly more or less money. Here's a breakdown:
- Athletics: The girls gymnastics team was cut, as was school-funded meals for kids during state tournaments and funding for power lifting. Power lifting will be funded through fund-raising, and meals are expected to also be fund-raised for by local booster clubs. Overall, athletics saw a 12% funding cut, or, more than $390,000.
- Fine arts: Programs will see about $45,000 less than last year as some professional services and supplies/materials costs were cut.
- Another nurse: The budget will fund a new position for a nurse who will split time between the special education department and general student needs.
- One less bus route: The "pusher" bus that would take kids from the downtown bus stop to Washington High School – typically kids who didn't all fit on the regular city bus – will no longer be in service. Vik said only two or three kids had been using this service, and eliminating it saves more than $500,000.
- More psychological services: The budget also gives more money to expand the capacity of school psychologists to help keep up with the mental and behavioral health needs of students. That's about a $21,000 increase.
What will this mean for taxes?
From the school district perspective, the levy is actually going down.
- This year, if you have a home valued at $300,000, you'll be paying about $2,450 in taxes to fund schools.
- In 2024, a home with the same value will pay about $2,360.
But, before you get too excited, your tax bill is still likely going up at least a little bit because of an increase in assessed valuation in the last couple years.
- For example, a home the district has been following for the last 20 years to track the impact of school taxes saw a 22% increase in valuation from 2022 to 2023.
The district is hoping to offset some of those steep increases by keeping its share of taxes relatively flat, Vik said.
What happens next?
The budget goes on to tentative approval from the school board on April 24 and then final approval in July.