Vermillion School District forced to make cuts; variety of factors come into play for decision

Vermillion School District forced to make cuts; variety of factors come into play for decision by M. Jill Karolevitz The state Legislature�s failure to provide adequate funding for education, increased costs, the inability to raise taxes and using general fund monies to provide staff raises has resulted in the need for an estimated $226,950 general fund budget cuts in the Vermillion School District for the 2001-02 school year.

The cuts are as follows:

Vermillion High School

A library/computer aide will not be rehired, resulting in a savings of about $10,150. The transportation/study hall aide position will also be dropped for a $13,600 savings. Paid early bird classes in biology and industrial tech will be eliminated as well � a cut of about $8,000.

�We have three classes that are held at 7:30 in the morning,� said Superintendent Robert Mayer. �One is Russian history, that I teach, but that will remain because there is no salary involved in that. The other teachers will have about $4,000 each cut from their salaries because they will not be teaching these classes, but there will be no positions lost.�

In the VHS athletic department, two assistant coaching positions � one each from wrestling and cross-country � will be eliminated.

�One of those coaches is not a teacher, so that position will be lost,� Mayer said. �The other will stay on as a teacher, without coaching responsibilities or the pay for those responsibilities.�

Mayer did say, however, if the number of athletes going out for these sports increases, these assistant coaching positions may be reinstated.

Five overnight trips for boys� and girls� basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and volleyball � not including state tournaments � will be dropped from the athletic schedule next year as well.

The total savings from the athletic department cuts will be about $14,000.

Elementary

Aide time will be reduced, with the exception of lunchtime aides, at both Austin and Jolley. A position is not being eliminated, but there will be a resulting cut of about $6,000.

Vermillion Middle School

The German language position will not be replaced at VMS.

�The teacher who was hired for that position took a leave of absence and is not coming back for next year,� Mayer said, �and her replacement for this year has resigned. We will not have that class next year.�

The savings will be about $28,000.

Mayer added that overall, the cuts taking place for next year do not adversely affect the students� education, �with the possible exception of losing the middle school German class,� he said. �But we do have four years of high school German, three years of Spanish, and two years of French. And Spanish may be expanded to four years and French to three years if the numbers justify.�

A full-time library aide position will be also dropped for a savings of about $13,700, and vocal music lessons will be reduced, resulting in a savings of about $5,000.

Administration

National convention expenses will be reduced by 50 percent.

�It�s in the administrators� contract that they can attend the national convention every year at the district�s expense � a common benefit provided by larger schools,� Mayer said. �We will now cut that to every other year.�

The savings will be about $5,000.

Supply budgets and the central office clerical help will also be reduced, resulting in about $7,000 of savings.

General

Substitute bonuses will be dropped, resulting in a savings of $6,500, along with a reduction of $2,000 in the advertising budget. The building and grounds budget will also be reduced by about $5,000 and a $10,000 savings will come from reducing the supply budget by 11 percent.

�We�re going to have to prioritize our needs a little more,� Mayer said. �We�d rather cut as much as we can in areas such as this, rather than cutting staff.�

The district�s contribution to the Native American coordinator salary will also be reduced by $6,000.

�This represents the district�s contribution to the salary for this position,� Mayer said. �The other part is provided by a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant.�

Other general cuts include money saved from retired or retiring teachers ��$30,000 � and funding the K-9 alternative school through the special education fund if possible.

�The alternative school is now funded through the general fund, but some of the students there are in special education,� Mayer said. �It costs about $46,000 to run the program, so if we can use about $27,000 of that from special education, that will help. We�re also going to move it from the location near Casey�s to the high school or middle school. That will result in a savings from the capital outlay budget of $9,000 a year in rent.�

The unemployment fund, which now sits at $60,000, will also be reduced to $30,000. This is a one-time movement of these monies to the general fund.

Mayer said the Vermillion School Board reluctantly decided to make the above cuts, and had no choice in the matter.

�These cuts do not devastate us � we can function, although there will have to be some belt tightening,� Mayer said. �But a similar dollar amount of cuts should be expected for the 2002-03 school year if proper funding by state government does not occur. Those cuts would be more serious � potentially more personnel and programs � which will definitely affect the kids.

�If we have to take more cuts into a third or fourth year, it�s really going to gut the system,� he continued. �And that will have a major impact on education and the community. Drastic cuts negatively affect the quality of education, which makes the community less attractive to people who may want to move here. Hopefully the Legislature will work more on education funding next time.�

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