Archive for Thursday, March 11, 2010

Board OKs staffs proposal for cuts

March 11, 2010, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: March 11, 2010, 4:32 p.m.

De Soto USD 232 has a $1.9 million budget gap for the 2009-2010 school year, but after tightening up its belt and sharpening pencils, that gap has gotten a little smaller.

Superintendent Ron Wimmer told the board Monday that with 82 percent of the district’s budget spent on staff, big cuts still needed to be made.

“These are challenging times for all school districts in the area,” Wimmer said. “It is difficult to implements savings and not get into the kind of reduction in personnel that we have to do.”

During Monday’s De Soto School Board meeting, the board decided to move forward with staff suggestions that would trim $788,700 from the 2010 budget.

The reductions included cutting Youth Friends staffing for $51,000 in savings; reducing one integration supervisor at a savings of $60,000; cutting two learning coaches to save $116,000; cutting two elementary associate principals, $135,000 in savings; cutting one early childhood education administration staff for $70,000 in savings; eliminating the director of the Parents as Teachers program to save $56,000; cutting a district level director for $96,000 in savings; cutting 10 extra-duty days for the middle school athletic director for $3,700 in savings; laying off five full-time staff from the technology department for $242,000 in savings; and cutting two teacher aide positions to save $44,000.

On Thursday, school board officials said although Barb Inman's position as director of the Parents as Teachers program will not be filled after her retirement, the program will continue.

The plan also included some added costs. The Monticello Trails Middle School will be adding one part-time building secretary at $10,000 and it is yet unknown how much added cost there will be for the new superintendent and new district athletic director.

Staff recommended cutting eight full-time positions from the facilities department, but the board held off on continuing with that suggestion.

“Many of (the job cuts) will occur through attrition,” Wimmer said. “One thing I can assure the board is that you will be aware… when we get to the point where we are talking about s specific individuals you authorize employment and you also authorize those people we may have to non-renew in order to achieve these goals.”

The staff’s suggestions also included cuts to special education, cuts and additions to the K-12 schools and possible cuts to extra-curricular activities including sports.

Wimmer said the board had more time to look into those potential costs and potential revenue sources including a proposed activity participation fees for things like sports.

During the meeting other board members gave cost-cutting suggestions.

Board member Randy Johnson wanted to see a 5 percent pay cut to all district administrators.

He said since he got on the board he felt the administrative budget was “fat.”

“If everybody’s got to hurt then everybody is going to have to help us pull things together,” he said. “If they want to keep working here then they may have to take a little bit of a pay cut.”

Board member Bill Fletcher wanted to see if cuts could be made in the number of sick days available to staff. He also wanted the board to look into extending the number of hours in school each week to decrease the number of days in the school year and to see how efficiently the buses were running.

Johnson and the rest of the board wanted to encourage staff to contact the board if they have other ideas to reduce costs because they don’t know what it is like in the classrooms.

Ken Larsen, USD 232 director of finance, reminded the board that $2.4 million in federal money the school had received was not going to be there forever and if no other revenue sources were found to replace it even deeper cuts would be needed.

“We are talking about a lot tougher decisions than what we are looking at right now,” he said.

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