Shorewood — The Shorewood School District will add a development director to its staff for the next two academic years in an effort to bring more donations into the district.
The estimated annual salary range for the position is $110,000 to $120,000. At the recommendation of the Finance and Facilities Committee, the School Board on Tuesday agreed to add the position to the budget and maintained flexability to use reserve funds if needed.
Show me the money
Finding the money for the post proved controversial.
Board member David Cobb explained that the committee grappled with the idea of paying for the position strictly with reserve fund dollars, as a matter of accountability.
"The rationale for the budgeted item was to be more disciplined about budgeting, and to be really clear that this is, in fact, something we're spending money on," Cobb said.
On the other hand, using only reserve funds to pay for the position during the first two years would have made a statement to the community that the district is not taking money from teachers and school programs to cover the cost of the position, Cobb added. Rather it would be making an investment to try the position for two years and see if the concept is successful.
By allowing for the use of fund balance if necessary, the funding method strikes a balance between the two options, Superintendent Martin Lexmond said. The implications of budgeting for the development director post in the 2013-14 budget remain to be seen, as final information from the state, including the per-pupil funding increase, is still pending.
With the inclusion of the development director position and no per-pupil increase from the state, the district's budget deficit could be as high as $134,000, Lexmond said. The district would start seeing a budget surplus with an increase of about $100 per pupil, and at $150 more per pupil, which is the figure the district has been hearing politically, that surplus would amount to about $100,000.
Best use of surplus?
In its discussion, the board weighed the pros and cons of including the position in the district budget. Although board member Colin Plese said he would support the committee's recommendation, he pointed out that if the district has fund balance available, it makes sense to invest those dollars.
"If you take it out of fund balance, your communication to the community is that you are not in any way impacting what's happening to the kids or our people that work here," Plese said.
But if the district includes the development director position in the budget and ends up with a surplus, Plese added, the argument can be made that the money was not used toward other things because of that position.
The board agreed that if any fund balance is used toward the position during the first two years, there must be a plan in place for replenishing the reserves. Cobb said the Finance and Facilities Committee would discuss and make a recommendation to the board about the specific mechanism for paying back any fund balance used.
Ultimately, the intention is that the development director would bring more than enough money into the district to offset the cost of the position, although it is uncertain whether the benefit would outweigh the cost during the first two years, or if it would take more time to see results.
Goal to ramp up donations
According to a memo from Lexmond, the purpose of hiring a development director is to establish a comprehensive donor database and fundraising process, significantly increase long-term fundraising, fund endowed chairs in the arts and sciences, and increase donations for completion of the stadium and other capital improvements.
The long-term goal is that fundraising provides for 1.5 percent of the general education fund budget, or about $350,000, plus the additional costs associated with long-term funding for the position, the memo states.
As the district prepares to fill the position, it will be taking a closer look at the structure of the position and how it interacts with other district fundraising groups. Administrators will meet with key stakeholder groups next week to explain the need for and role of the development director, Cobb said.
Teacher Amy Miller stressed the importance of selling the development director concept to teachers, in particular, in addition to fundraising groups, community members and other stakeholders.
AT A GLANCE
To access more information on the director of development position and related budget implications from the School Board's agenda packet, visit www.shorewood.k12.wi.us. Select "Board of Education" from the "Our District" drop-down menu. Then go to "Agendas & Minutes" and select the June 4 School Board special meeting from the list.
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