SIDNEY -- Sidney Public Schools Superintendent Andrew Farber announced today proposed budget cuts to meet budget shortfalls.

The District is facing a shortfall of about $600,000. The $6000,000 loss is in addition to $260,000 in budget adjustments this year. 

" As you may be aware, our district has been facing a $600,000 budget shortfall, which has required a careful evaluation and adjustment to our budget and programming for the upcoming school year. First of all, throughout this current school year, we have implemented a series of strategic budget adjustments aimed at minimizing the impact on our students' educational experiences while ensuring fiscal responsibility. These adjustments include reallocating $260,000 in resources while optimizing operational efficiency, ensuring the classroom and instructional environments remain intact," Farber said in a letter today.

Farber thanked the community on behalf of the school board and administration for the input and patience shown as the announcement was made of potential budget cuts.

"I want to extend a sincere thank you on behalf of myself and the entire Board of Education for the thoughtful input, meaningful conversations, and grace you have shown to the district as we have worked to navigate this challenge. Your support and collaboration have been instrumental in helping us make informed decisions that prioritize the well-being and success of our students," he said.  

He encourages community members to attend school board meetings and share ideas and concerns.

  "We highly value your input and solutions that contribute to the education of our students within the SPS district. If you ever wish to share your thoughts, the Board of Education convenes regularly on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the district office. Your participation is invaluable in shaping the future of our educational community," he said.

 He said the District's commitment to student education has not changed.

  "I want to reassure you that despite these necessary adjustments, our commitment to providing high-quality education remains unwavering. Sidney Public Schools is dedicated to maintaining excellence in teaching and learning, fostering a supportive and inclusive school community, and empowering every student to reach their full potential," he said.

  Regarding the adjustments made to our services, programming, and staffing in light of our budgetary constraints, Sidney Public Schools has finalized the following decisions for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year: 

Reduction in Administrative Expenses: 

  • Several measures been implemented to reduce administrative expenses, including but not limited to: 
  • The reduction of professional development for the SPS School Board and administrative team, teacher college credit reimbursement programs, and summer transportation expenses for non-school-related events or clubs outside the normal school day. 
  • The North Elementary principal position will not be rehired and funds for that position will be utilized for other certified related positions.  
  • School-related clubs will be asked to offset the expense of their experiences that occur outside the classroom.(Ex: DECA/FFA/ HOSA/SKILLS)  
  • Discretionary funding that has been utilized to purchase school related expenses will be reduced by 15 - 20 percent.   

  District Services: 

We have implemented several measures to reduce district services, including but not limited to: 

  • The Cool Kids Club will be discontinued at the conclusion of the school year..
  • The closing date for Cool Kids Club will be June 1, 2024.  
  • Bussing will continue, however the district intends to modify and streamline all in - town routes within 4 miles of the district. 
  • County routes and “pick- up locations” identified within the required limit will continue as they have in the past.  
  • More information regarding bussing will be provided in the near future.

North Elementary: 

  • A decision regarding North Elementary has not been made at this time.  
  • In the event North Elementary closes, third grade will move to South Elementary and 4th grade will move to West Elementary.   
  • Please note: throughout this decision-making process, the district is taking into account not only the academic approach to learning, but also the logistical considerations involved in accommodating additional students at each school, all while actively seeking solutions to address this challenge. 
  • Please remember, that following the district's evaluation of North Elementary, if there isn't a definite plan to close the facility, it will continue operating until such a plan is devised. 
  • The goal is to have a decision in April.  

School Clubs/Extra Duty Related Sponsorships: 

  • The district has made the decision to not fund multiple extra-duty/extracurricular positions for the 2024 school year, including coaching/sponsor positions and various club and coordinator positions. 
  • These decisions related to extra duty positions have not been made lightly and we understand the significance of these roles within our school community. However, it is a necessary step to ensure the financial stability of our district during this difficult time. 
  • Staff will be notified of the positions that will not be funded in the near future.  

Staffing: 

  • Unfortunately, with this sizable loss in funding, staffing will be affected. 
  • In order to make adjustments to staffing, the district will initially utilize attrition and individual retirements.  
  • Additionally, to offset the expense of staff, positions will be filled from with-in if possible and jobs that can be merged will.  
  • The goal in this process is to stay as far away from NE Rule 10 requirements as possible, while still meeting the needs of every learner. 
  • The stipend for the third assistant principal and curriculum chair positions will be discontinued. 
  • The district is currently in the process of evaluating the LIMHP program and a decision regarding its future will be made in April. 

  Farber said the District's intent in the budget process has been to maintain academic services as much as possible.

"Throughout this process, the district’s goal has been to engage in a thoughtful process that allows for adjustments to our school budget while minimizing the impact on classrooms and teaching/staffing positions. We understand that these decisions may affect services and programs that have enhanced our district in the past," Farber said.