Racine schools face budget, operational changes amid pandemic

The Racine Unified School District (RUSD) has released its interim budget for the 2020-21 school year.

In a time when the world has reimagined the way it operates, The RUSD is no different.

"We had to develop an entire plan of operation for our schools," said Marc Duff, RUSD's chief financial officer.

Duff's priority as CFO has been flexibility, especially this year as the district evaluates when schools can resume in-person learning.

"We have to be able to meet all different options, both for the safety of students and staff, for our operations, but also fiscally, our budget has to be able to accommodate that," Duff said.

Marc Duff, Racine Unified School District chief financial officer

Marc Duff

A normally black-and-white process suddenly became much more difficult with rising expenses.

The budget showed increases in expenses related to COVID-19 safety and virtual learning:

  • A $1 million increase for sanitation, masks and more
  • At least $1 million set aside for busing; the district needs to use more buses at a smaller capacity
  • Nearly $4 million on technology to start the year remotely

As the expenses rise, student enrollment -- the largest driver of revenue -- is decreasing.

The district projects an enrollment drop of around 470 students, factoring into an estimated $6.4 million budget shortfall. RUSD's solution? Reduce staff expenses by $5.8 million through attrition and adjusting staffing levels.

"I think every business has gone through this, but it has been very challenging for us as well," said Duff.

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FOX6 News reached out to Racine Educators United for comment. The organization declined to provide one, citing the need for more review.

The district is still accepting public comment on the budget before preparing a final version later this month.

The RUSD's interim budget is available online, here.

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