School Board revisits budget cuts

By on February 26, 2010

Original $2.6 million deficit considered Phase 1 of cuts
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—In light of the news of the additional possible $2.2 million shortfall due to a reduction in state funding, (see related story) School Board members let go of some of the programs they sought to keep during last week’s meeting. The board Monday revisited the budget cuts proposed to eliminate the $2.6 million deficit for 2010-11.

Gone by the wayside is the eighth-grade competitive sports program and back is the elimination of 11 clubs at the high school level.

“There’s no way I can see keeping eighth-grade sports and losing 50 teachers,” board member Diane Piazza said.

The administration asked board members to go back to the original proposal to cut all middle school interscholastic sports in exchange for an intramural program.

“I hate to be the bad guy, but you can’t put faith in the state,” board member Bob Myers said. “Our first charge is to educate. Class size is a huge factor. Nobody wants it to creep over 25. I have a hard time reinstating anything. Our key focus is to educate the kids. Everything else is gravy and fluff.”

This plan included more cuts than the original plan presented several weeks ago, such as the administrative personnel salary freeze and the elimination of the budget for new technology. The overall reduction number including these adjustments is currently at $2.9 million, beyond the initial target number of $2.6 million.

According to Schuler, the additional reductions will be moved over to the phase two plan as the administration works to develop that plan to address the potential $2.2 million shortfall from the state.

Although the board was not asked to vote on the cuts on Monday, Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler told board members it was important that they come to consensus on the phase one, $2.6-million cost reduction plan that will be presented for their approval on Monday, March 8.

The straw poll taken on the plan was 6-0.

A vote on whether or not to increase athletics and activities fees was tabled until March. Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs told board members that the Facilities Advisory Committee would support a modest increase in the fees.

“I’d be in favor of having this discussion after we have a better sense of what phase two will look like,” Piazza said.