Hamilton Southeastern Schools doesn’t expect enrollment decline to affect salaries


Despite an enrollment decline this year, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton Southeastern Schools CFO Katy Dowling said she doesn’t expect teacher or administrator salaries or benefits to be reduced. HSE will vote on its budget Oct. 27.

Although schools receive funding from the state per student, Dowling said the funding formula also changed, and the district receives more money per student this year than it did for the 2020-21 school year.

Whereas other school districts have already completed their 2022 budget and may need to make changes because of declining enrollment, HSE won’t vote on its budget until Oct. 27.

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“Every district’s budget process is a little different, and our budget process is not completed yet,” Dowling said. “We have not made a determination on raises for any staff. We wanted to wait for student funding counts to come in.”

Dowling said the district anticipated the decline, which has been fairly common in local school districts since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020 because of online learning models, student transfers or other reasons.

“I think enrollment has an impact on everything because the state identifies an amount, per student, they’re going to generate for us as a revenue,” Dowling said. “There really isn’t a way to diversify revenue. Yes, we have less students, but the state increased our funding per student, so we have a lower number of students than last September, but the per-student amount has gone up due to the state budget being allocated in that manner.”

The 2020-21 school year revenue funding model from the state provided $5,703 per student. For the 2021-22 school year, it is providing $5,995 per student.

Carmel Clay Schools recently drafted its budget expecting to an increase in students, but CCS experienced a decline of 150 to 175 students, which could lead to a $2 million shortfall in state funding for the district. CCS plans to address the shortfall by cutting positions that are no longer needed and by proposing a previously approved 4.5 percent raise for administrators and department chairs for the 2022-23 school year be scaled back to 3 percent. Dowling doesn’t expect HSE to rescind any pay raises because HSE’s 2022 budget has not yet been approved.

“A lot goes into that for us, but we don’t set any raises as a district as a whole until we get that district contract settled,” Dowling said.

Dowling said HSE typically waits for revenues to be solidified before it completes the budget each year. She said she’s unaware of the last time HSE teachers didn’t get a raise. Teacher salaries and benefits are negotiated with the Hamilton Southeastern Education Association every two years, but because of fluid enrollment, Dowling said she expects the district to re-negotiate teacher salary and benefits again next year with the HSEA instead of waiting until 2023.

For more, visit hseschools.org.