$100K of cuts named by board

$100K of cuts named by board By David Lias There was good news and bad news at Monday�s Vermillion School Board meeting.

The good news: Negotiations of the school district�s bus service contract will bring annual savings of approximately $55,000 annually.

The bad news: Less than half of those savings will come from the district�s general fund. The remainder of the savings will be experienced by the district�s healthier capital outlay and special education funds.

The school board identified cuts totaling approximately $100,000 that it will have to make in next year�s school budget, even if a proposed property freeze opt-out is approved by voters March 15.

The board has already identified $350,000 of cuts that must be made should the opt-out fail.

The following areas will be trimmed regardless of the election outcome:

? $20,000 for transportation (bus routes reduced from five to four routes);

? $20,000 for staff development;

? $5,000 for technology software;

? $2,000 for vehicle insurance;

? $3,000 for property insurance;

? $1,653 for board advertising;

? $1,477 for golf substitute;

? $1,500 for superintendent/business manager supplies;

? $1,500 for Austin School supplies;

? $1,500 for Jolley School supplies;

? $1,500 for paper;

? $5,000 for building supplies and maintenance.

The board has also earmarked nearly $32,000 in additional cuts that come from a citizens� committee. Most of those cuts are non-personnel, with the exception of some co-curricular areas.

These cuts include contractual services, repairs and maintenance, textbooks and supplies. Co-curricular activities targeted are cheerleading, class advisors, Quiz Bowl, Art Club, FHA and gifted coordinator.

School Board President Tom Craig referred to recommendations by a citizens� committee in June 2002 as he began discussion of the latest decisions made by the board.

�I know there have been discussions in the community and among some of the faculty members about how we had dealt with some of the decisions that came from the committee, and also how we have dealt with the VEA�s recommendations,� he said.

Craig said the board has taken those recommendations very seriously, and �has either totally accepted them or worked through them in making some cuts.�

One of the recommendations was eliminating the position of building maintenance supervisor.

The board reclassified the position. Scott Hanson, the person holding that job, works 60 percent as building supervisor and 40 percent as a custodian.

�He is the only individual within the district who has been asked to take a pay cut through this entire process,� Craig said.

The citizens� committee had also recommended elimination of an elementary assistant principal position.

�We reviewed that, and part of the problem we have is that we have four separate buildings,� Craig said.

Three hundred students and 20 faculty attend Austin Elementary, which is served by Assistant Principal Mark Upward.

�We just don�t see that we can leave that uncovered,� Craig said. �I don�t think there is any other public or private sector organization that expects people in those large of numbers to be supervised by somebody other than an assistant principal.�

The board has also explored another of the committee�s recommendations: moving administration offices into one of the school buildings.

The superintendent, business manager, curriculum director and support staff are housed in a central office building in downtown Vermillion, leased annually by the school district for $12,000.

The district spends an additional $3,000 per year on a building to store confidential records.

�The only place we have adequate room to move that central office would be to the high school,� Craig said. �It would cost quite a bit of money out of capital outlay (in remodeling) to meet those recommendations.�

The district�s capital outlay fund, unlike the general fund, isn�t experiencing a severe shortfall. State law prohibits the transfer of monies from capital outlay to the general fund.

The board has concluded that simply spending capital outlay dollars on new office space, Craig said, would bring no significant savings to the general fund.

The board, he said, has responded to concerns raised about administrative costs in the district. An assistant principal position at the high school has been eliminated.

�We designated the new job as part-time dean of students,� Craig said. �He�s not a qualified administrator; that saved us some money in salary.�

The board also eliminated the family hospital insurance package for the athletic director. �We saved some significant money there, and we addressed one of the problems that the community saw,� he said.

General fund cuts proposed to the school board by the Vermillion Education Association (VEA) last month, should the opt-not not pass, are estimated to total approximately $163,000.

That amount falls well short of the $350,000 that will need to be trimmed from the general fund with no opt-out, said Nick Merrigan, school board member.

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