Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2009

School board prepares list for budget cuts

Superintendent reassures district staff, faculty that jobs are not at risk in phase 1 of plan

February 26, 2009

Be prepared, but don’t overreact. This was Assistant Superintendent David Howard’s advice for handling the expected USD 458 budget cuts.

At Monday night’s Basehor-Linwood School Board work session, board members sat down to discuss some possible areas for saving money during the next two school years. Howard said that the district was in a complicated situation because the state had not yet announced the final amounts to be cut.

“We’re kind of shooting at a moving target here,” Howard said. “We have a wide range, and we’re not sure how much needs to be cut. I’ve heard anywhere from 5 to 18 percent.”

The board looked at areas from school programs to athletic uniforms and came up with a plan in light of Howard’s recommendation to not go too far.

“I know we have to be ready, but I want to caution us to not go too deep and make cuts that we really don’t need to make,” Howard said.

Howard said that the plan would be divided into two phases. Phase one included cuts that could be made presently, while phase two would be later implemented only if necessary. The money-saving processes in phase one would reduce the district’s budget by 5 percent, Howard said.

“The goal amount here is 5 percent because I think we’ll see at least that from the state,” he said.

Phase one includes:

• Raise fees for driver’s education, most likely from $185 to $275.

• Eliminate the Building Trades Class, in which students learn how to build a house. The course currently costs $50,000 per year.

• Suspend summer training for the virtual school. The training currently costs $25,000.

• Eliminate second-year teacher mentoring. Teacher mentoring costs $600 for every new teacher the first year and $7,250 during the second year.

• Eliminate the Fast Forward reading program and an elementary field trip to the high school. The Fast Forward program costs $10,500, and the field trip costs $2,000 in transportation fees.

• Suspend summer school for the district. The summer schooling currently costs $7,500.

• Cancel the district’s year-end dessert banquet, which costs $3,000.

• Eliminate the planning period at the high school or change it from five days a week to two or three days a week. This planning period consists of 85 minutes, broken down into a 25-minute activity and a 60-minute allotment for student planning. If the days which students had planning were reduced, the full 85 minutes would be devoted to planning. Planning period currently costs the district $25,000 per year.

• Make the district calendar and newsletters, which cost $15,000, available on the Internet only.

• Reduce athletic field maintenance. The board did not have a cost for current maintenance, but Superintendent Robert Albers said the district was looking at ways to reduce the amount.

• Eliminate boys and girls junior varsity golf.

• Eliminate junior varsity cheerleading and give the cheerleading squad two sponsors instead of three.

• Reduce the number of assistant coach positions for high school football and track. These positions are currently unfilled, so the district would not be putting anyone out of a job.

Albers said that he wanted to alleviate some of the anxiety that the district’s staff might have about the budget cuts. He and Howard said that they were trying to keep reductions as far away from the classrooms as possible.

Board President Randy Cunningham said that staff members could call the administrative office anytime.

“There’s a lot of folks here worried about their jobs, and they’ve heard stories,” Cunningham said. “If you want to hear the true stories, call here. But let me say this, as far as this board is concerned, we aren’t looking at your jobs or at teachers’ jobs to make cuts.”

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