District 15 looks to cut $2 million

With state funding remaining the same and enrollment expected to decrease, the St. Francis School District will have to cut $2.075 million from its 2013-2014 budget.

The board March 25 approved the Financial Planning Action Committee (FPAC) recommendations on a 5-1 vote. Boardmember Susanne Erkel voted no and Boardmember Harry Grams was absent.

The district enrollment is expected to be down by 200 students decreasing the district’s revenue, said Superintendent Ed Saxton.

The recommendations include realigning how special education is billed to the state and federal governments, reassignments in transportation and the district office and looking for potential savings in cooperative agreements, negotiations and other contracts.

There will be one-time savings of $15,000 from the special education billing changes for 2012-2013 and $15,000 in ongoing savings from the adjustments made in the special education billing in 2013-2014, Saxton said.

With the shifting of staff positions after the death of Special Education Director Jacque Stein, there was salary savings of $22,000 because the staff in the positions now are not making as high of a salary, he said.

Realigning the special education program and retooling the program is expected to save the district $85,000 in the next year.

There will be no job loss with the realignment, rather it will be a change in positions and adjustments in how the state and federal governments are charged, Saxton said.

To cut $100,000 from the transportation budget, the district will be blending bus routes and moving Kids Connection from the Lifelong Learning Center to Cedar Creek Community School to eliminate the busing for the program, he said.

The district office budget, which includes the technology and curriculum departments, will be cut by $175,000.

There will be some reassignments and restructuring, said Saxton.

As people leave their positions, they will not be refilled, he said.

The district is looking to cut $304,000 from its cooperative agreement and contract with other entities.

“We are looking at all the arrangements and whether there are better ways to do them,” Saxton said.

With retirements and the realignment of the middle school program to a seven-day period, the district will be cutting $785,000 from the budget.

There will be two less sections of teachers needed at the middle school, Saxton said.

Class sizes at the middle school will be 30-31 students, he said.

At the high school, the career counselor position will be eliminated and there will be some adjustments to the high school guidance counselor’s office position, saving $45,000.

The four high school counselors will take on the role of career counselor, Saxton said.

Are the counselors going to be able to handle the additional duties and still be able to see of their students, said Erkel.

There is already a long wait for the students to see their counselors, she said.

That is why the counseling office position is not being eliminated, because the counseling staff cannot take it all on, Saxton said.

One high school teacher position will also be eliminated, saving $90,000.

The average class size in the core classes will be 32-35 students, Saxton said.

FPAC also recommended one principal position be eliminated for a savings of $110,000.

There are currently 10 principal and assistant principal positions in the district, including one principal on special assignment doing data analysis, Saxton said.

Depending on how many people retire this year, the district may be able to retain this position, he said.

Erkel said she would vote against the FPAC recommendations because of the principal cut.

With teacher retirements and attrition, Saxton said $585,000 is expected to be cut from the budget.

As teachers retire, the district will be able to hire for the positions at the lower end of the pay scale, Saxton said.

The district will also be cutting $30,000 from the Community Education budget with a realignment of its billing and the retirement of an Adult Basic Education person.

According to Saxton, the district expects to trim another $29,000 as it reviews other revenue sources and expense budgets

Program changes

FPAC also recommended continuing the all-day, everyday kindergarten (ADED K) and fourth-grade STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

It also recommended to expanding the STEM program to fifth-grade to allow this year’s fourth-graders to continue on the STEM path and to bring program changes at the middle school to prepare it for the STEM education program into the sixth-grade and beyond.

The fourth-graders are getting a STEM-flavored education and the district needs to expand the program for the 350 students as they advance grades, Saxton said.

The middle school only has science for two of the three trimesters, he said.

Next year the science classes offered all year, Saxton said.

The curriculum will also have to be approached differently in the middle school as will the schedule, he said.

As the middle school switches from a five-period day to a seven-period day, the elective classes will be tied to technology, Saxton said.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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