USD 410 identifies $500,000 in budget cuts, if necessary

The USD 410 Board of Edu?ca?tion, in a special meeting Wednesday night, April 29, approved several personnel adjustments in an attempt to address expected revenue declines in the ballpark of $500,000 for the 2009-10 school year.

Decisions to not renew staff contracts have to be made by May 1.

The board accepted the resignation of Anita Boese, media specialist for the high school and middle school, who accepted the board?s early-retirement benefit. Her position will not be filled. Instead, Sandy Arnold, media specialist at the elementary school, will assume that role for the entire district. Boese?s resignation was projected to save the district about $40,000 after the early-retirement benefit of $16,300 is paid out.

In other action, the board reduced the number of ?additional days? from the contracts of Gregg Walker, director of instrumental music, Sonya Roberts, agriculture education teacher and FFA sponsor, and Diana Holub, high school counselor.

All three will continue to have full-employment contracts, but Walker?s payment days beyond the contract were reduced from 10 to five, Roberts? from 20 to 10, and Holub?s from 20 to zero. The combined savings to the district would be almost $7,000.

Prior to Wednesday, Joyce Loewen, middle school teacher, had accepted an early-retirement offer that will net the district a savings of around $40,000.

Superintendent Doug Huxman said administrators and the board worked hard to avoid cutting jobs and undermining the educational process. Instead, the reduction process focused on making relatively small cuts in many areas.

In addition to approving a total savings of $101,658 in the area of teaching positions, the board identified the potential for additional cuts, if necessary, totaling $408,515 in the areas of supplemental, administration and classified positions, activities and miscellaneous budget lines.

The list of miscellanea budget-line adjustments was 33 items long, ranging from a low reduction of $438 in coaching-clinic registrations to a transfer of $55,000 into the operating fund from the reserve fund. The transfer represents 10 percent of the reserve-fund balance.

Huxman said a lot of ?cussin? and discussin?? went into the budget-cutting process as administrators spoke passionately about one area or another, but in the end they reached consensus.

The district will not know how many of the identified adjustments will need to be acted upon until after the Kansas Legislature passes a compromise bill on state funding for education. Currently, the House and Senate have proposed separate plans with a variance of options.

For example, the House plan would reduce the per-pupil subsidy by $164 from from $4,400 to $4,236 while the Senate would reduce the subsidy by $108 from $4,400 to $4,292.

Based on the bills initially passed by the two chambers, Huxman estimated the ?best-case scenario? for potential cuts is $415,150 while the ?worst-case scenario? is $550,000.

Also complicating the budget issue, and awaiting action in Topeka, is a bill regarding the local option budget, which allows districts to raise money locally for enhancing their educational programs.

Currently, the LOB amounts to 30 percent of the general fund. A cut in state funding for the general fund would result a corresponding reduction in the LOB.

A bill is being discussed to ?decouple? the two funds, but if it doesn?t pass, even less money will be available to a school district?in USD 410?s case, an additional $80,000 less, according to Jerry Hinerman, business manager.

The $510,713 in real and potential reductions identified by the board on Wednesday represents about a 7.7 percent cut in the district?s $6.6 million operating budget.

As is the case for most rural school districts in Kansas, USD 410 is feeling both edges of the budget-cutting sword: per-pupil subsidy reductions by the state and fewer pupils to receive subsidy because of declining enrollment.

At the high end of $550,000 in cuts for next year, about $300,000 would result from the per-pupil subsidy reduction, and the remaining $250,000 would be the result of having fewer students than a year ago.

The outcome of the legislature?s decisions regarding education funding is far from settled. Asked at Wednesday?s meeting when USD 410 might receive ?solid? numbers from Topeka, the board erupted into laughter and the shaking of heads.

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