"The numbers are driving us to prioritize our values," said Spring. "We have to prioritize what is important to us and then we are going to have to make choices and they are going to be very, very difficult choices, harder than I think we ever made before."
The district was also labeled as being in fiscal distress in 2005, noted Spring, which affected their bond rating, but since then the BOE and school officials worked to reach a more sound financial situation.
"If you didn't know that that's kind of the shape we were in, I'm glad you didn't, because we tried not to make it a crisis," said Spring. "We've always tried to balance what do our students need and what can our community afford and sometimes that is a struggle to figure that out."
While difficult budgets aren't a new problem, the solutions are not any easier to arrive at for school officials and community members.
Groups received a budget development worksheet, which outlined associated costs for non-mandated expenses that could be reduced. Some of the larger areas of savings, which community members seemed to be in some agreement in cutting, were reducing administrators and transportation expenses.
If two full-time administration positions were cut there would be an estimated savings up to $140,000. Spring said all administrative salaries in the district only account for less than 1 percent of the total budget. If all administrators were removed there would a savings of $1.6 million, which still isn't enough to close the budget gap.
"As you can see this is a challenge," said Spring after the groups returned to report their discussions. "Please go out to your neighbors and tell them that this is really serious. I think that people don't know that, or believe that magic pill or wand is going to be waved and it has happened in the past, so I think people have become somewhat numb to this."