The administrative plan unveiled by the district at a work session Monday night relies on approximately $1.5 million in cuts and $2 million in additional funding from the state and borough. The state increase is expected to come from $1.2 million in two bills now before the Legislature. From the borough, the board’s plan calls for an additional $800,000, far more than the borough assembly has said it would support.
“In good conscience, we have to ask for it,” said school board chairwoman Melissa Borton. “(Otherwise), I’m basically telling our parents and our students it’s OK to slash the budget.”
Even with extra money from the borough, balancing the budget isn’t going to be a painless process. The tentative plan discussed Monday calls for cutting 10 full-time employees, several teachers’ aides, one maintenance mechanic, one administrator and about $250,000 in discretionary spending.
Because of confidentiality laws, the district cannot list the names or official titles of the people who may be laid off. Instead, the plan lists the job losses in “full-time employee equivalents.”
Some elements are clear. The plan would affect fifth-grade band and orchestra, the district gifted and talented program, elementary school counselors, district education technologists, a curriculum coordinator, an assessment coordinator and a career technical education coordinator.
Since January, the district has heard from teachers, parents and students. Their recommendations were taken up by a special committee of parents and administrators who made the final selection, superintendent Stewart McDonald said.
“The community was very strong on trying to preserve existing student-teacher ratios,” he said.
“In this analysis, you can see it preserves student-teacher ratios,” said district finance director Luke Fulp.
But if the borough balks at giving an additional $800,000 to the district, more cuts could be on the table. Borough assembly member Mel Stephens, the assembly’s representative to the school board, said he thinks it may be difficult to get more money from the borough.
“The thought that you’re going to get an additional $800,000 from local funding is overly optimistic, and I think that is something that is an understatement,” he said.
When the borough assembly drafted a letter to the school board setting out its initial budget position, it specifically re-drafted the letter to take a firmer tone, Stephens reminded the school board.
“I do not speak for other assembly members,” he said, “but that amount was not intended to be a minimum.”
The school district will again take up its proposed budget plan during a work session April 16. A vote to accept the budget has been scheduled for April 23.
Fulp said if the borough rejects the proposed school funding levels, it will be up to the school board itself to make additional cuts and balance its budget anew.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiak