M-P board examines budget cuts

By Mary Zielinski
Posted 2/25/99

Facing greatly reduced reserves and uncertain passage of an Instructional Support Levy, the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday started looking at budget cuts to come up with at least $100,000 for …

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M-P board examines budget cuts


Facing greatly reduced reserves and uncertain passage of an Instructional Support Levy, the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday started looking at budget cuts to come up with at least $100,000 for fiscal 1999-2000.

However, two main reasons were recommended for immediate implementation for the current 1998-99 year.

Superintendent Gordon Cook, who said “we have wrestle with it (cuts) for some time,” urged immediate cessation of any overtime and elimination of all student field trips.

Exceptions for the first would be to permit up to six hours per week to maintain the terrazzo floor in the new high school addition, a custodian for when there is extra curricular activity and some additional hours at Washington Township Elementary. All are for maintenance.

The only trips for students would be for competition, the recommendation noted.

Athletics, not part of competition, would also fall under the band, Cook said.

Middle School band instructor Becky Curtis told the board that there are music performances that are not competitive, but involve students going to other schools in the district.

Cook said that would be considered a field trip. After further discussion, she noted that the new policy would mean the music students could not perform outside the Middle School, but outside athletic groups who come in (because it is competition) are not charged for using the facilities.

Pat Curl, a member of the Mid-Prairie support staff, asked what the policy would be if parents or other groups paid the costs of a field trip.

“They would be no cost to the district.”

Curl also asked about the use of a school van, with the teacher, and no bus driver.

“It would save paying a driver. The only cost would be the gas,” he said.

Board member Julie Miller noted that in the spring in the Industrial Arts class visits construction sites.

“Would they permitted?” she asked.

“No,” said Cook, explaining that they are a field trip.

Middle School Principal Becky Furlong noted that the policy also would eliminate a part of the English River Project that is part of the curriculum.

The board then discussed exceptions for curriculum-related trips, possible costs borne by other than the district, permitting trips only within the district, and what to do if a trip could not obtain any outside funding.

Board member Ray Marner suggested setting a maximum dollar amount per classroom and Craig Schweinfurth asked about charging a fee per student.

“For some students that would be a hardship,” said Furlong.

A parent then told the board that at Washington Township, parent boosters paid for a school trip to Living History Farms and that no student would denied participation because of money.

Board members agreed to permit field trips within the district.

The major plan for cutbacks is for fiscal 1999-2000 and Cook recommended:

•no purchase of curriculum materials unless taken from building budget; estimated savings, $50,000

•continuation of no overtimes; estimated savings, $32,000

•continuation of no field trips; estimated savings, $17,311

•end evening bus shuttles. estimated savings, $5,887

•end extended contracts where possible; estimated savings, $7,500

•no out of state meetings or conventions; estimated savings, $9,000

•NCA visit this year; estimated savings, $10,000

•staff cuts, as deep as needed.

Cook stressed that the recommendations “do not affect job contracts, they do not take away a job,” stressing that it does not “take teachers or aides away.”

The extended contract would affect guidance counselors and librarians primarily.

He stressed that all the areas are important, but that cuts will have to be made if there is no additional funding.

To stop depletion of reserves, “we have to quit spending money,” than added that ‘the other side is to bring in more money.”

He stressed that the situation could change, depending on the outcome of the March 16 levy vote.

An alternative to the specific cuts, he said, is to have an across the board cut, reducing all areas by a certain amount.

District Business Manager Doug Slaubaugh said that “the district’s unspent balance is $400,000 too low now,” stressing that the reserves have to be re-built; that the needed reserve balance is $500,000.

The board then adjourned to go into closed session to discuss a law enforcement issue involving an on-going investigation of possible criminal activity.