Superintendent Explains Cuts To School District

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Casey O'Brien

The passage of the override averted catastrophic cuts to our district, but it has not fully resolved our budget dilemma.

We knew, and communicated, the magnitude of our budget problem going into the election. Reductions in base level funding, elimination of funding for all-day K, a small drop in enrollment, a significant increase in health care insurance premiums for the district and the elimination of federal funding for class-size reduction positions mean that we must immediately address a shortfall of $1.2 million for FY 2011.

Sadly, unlike last year, a shortfall of this magnitude cannot be completely bridged via employee attrition. Cuts in staffing must be made.

Last evening, the governing board voted to eliminate a number of positions. In keeping with guiding principles, these cuts were primarily directed away from the classroom. Also, in putting together these recommendations, input from each school site and department was considered, as well as input from the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee.

These suggestions were instrumental in the development of the recommendations for the board to consider.

The following Reduction in Force measures were approved by the board:

Administration

• Combine high school principal positions. (Mrs. Kathe Ketchem will serve as principal.)

• Combine PES/FES principal positions. (Mr. Will Dunman will serve as principal.)

• Eliminate director of curriculum and instruction position.

• Eliminate PHS athletic director position.

Classified Staff

• Business Office (1 position).

• PHS Office (1 position).

Librarian Positions

• PHS/RCMS (Library aides will staff these positions).

Certified Staff

• .5 high school Spanish position

Additionally the board voted to only fund half-day kindergarten, based on the elimination of full day funding by the state. All day K will be made available to parents via tuition.

Lastly, the board eliminated M&O funding of all co-curricular and extra-curricular funding/contracts. Participation fees, Credit for Kids and other outside revenue sources will fund these programs.

Although last night’s actions minimized the impact to classroom teachers and made up a significant portion of our budget shortfall, the fact is, to balance our budget; some additional RIF notices will be required.

Those will impact teachers. That number should be less than 10. Without the override; this number would have been more than 30.

These reductions will be on the board’s agenda at our April 12 meeting. At that time we hope to also recommend the issuance of certificated and administrative contracts. Again the guiding principle of reductions will be to minimize the impact to sites and programs.

We have another substantial budget hurdle to overcome and that is the May 18, 1 cent sales tax initiative outcome.

I will be presenting a budget update for all personnel this Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the PHS auditorium to discuss the state budget, where we stand now and the outlook for next year.

Making decisions that impact the lives of employees is exceptionally difficult, but make them we must. I want to acknowledge the dedication and service of the employees who are being affected by these cuts. On behalf of the governing board, thank you for your service and our sincere best wishes for success in future endeavors.

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