The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 19, 2013

Cuts proposed at Central schools

By Janet Huffman
Herald Correspondent

DEWITT — Superintendent Dan Peterson proposed a list of general fund budget reductions to the Central Community School Board last week.

Based on decreases in enrollment and where the financial status of the district is now, Peterson said $800,000 in cuts must be made to the general fund budget. The cuts are the result of the board’s goal of achieving $501,915 in unspent balance money, a loss of $6,001 in funding per student with decreased enrollment, and a personnel cost increase for 2013-14 estimated at $200,000.

The district will lose $220,237 due to the 2012-13 enrollment decline of 36.7 students. Also a yet undetermined increase in wages, benefits, a 5.6 percent insurance rate increase, and a .26 percent Iowa Public Employee Retirement System increase affect the need for budget cuts.

Beginning with the already-completed elimination of the transportation director and mechanic positions, Peterson added elimination of the part-time family resource center director and one physical education teacher through attrition.

Other reductions in teaching positions came at the elementary level. By decreasing sections of kindergarten from five to four, reducing jumpstart to one section and both first and second grade from five to four sections, four elementary positions will be eliminated with only one through the retirement incentive program. With the reduction of jumpstart, one of the two teacher associate positions will be eliminated.

At the intermediate level the art teacher’s position will go from .67 time to .58 time and the current long-term substitute position in music will be eliminated. Also the band teacher’s position, which includes middle school students, will be reduced from full-time to .75 and the 15 extended contract days eliminated. A special education position at the middle school will be lost through the retirement incentive. Intermediate/middle school principal Jim Wichman noted that the changes will increase instructional time for reading and math and will not compromise the fine arts programs.

At the high school the extended contract days for the band teacher and agriculture teacher are reduced by a third, and one full-time language arts teacher position will go to .75 through attrition. Central High School Principal George Pickup asked that questions about the cuts be directed to him and he would explain the reasoning.

District-wide cuts include reduction of technical support, office supplies, 15 percent on building budgets, and Internet service costs; transfer of nutrition software costs to the nutrition fund; and elimination of two bus routes through attrition. There are additional savings through the early retirement incentive.

In all, the proposed cuts to the general fund equaled $858,374. Board member Jim Irwin noted that funds from different accounts cannot be used interchangeably and the district surveyed 15 comparative districts to make the recommendations.

The board has scheduled a special meeting Feb. 27 to again review the reductions. A final decision will be made at the March 13 regular school board meeting.

In other business, the board amended the second reading of the new policy on disposition of district equipment to reduce the amount for which the superintendent is responsible to $1,000 rather than $5,000. Board member Steve Fuglsang said the board should make the decisions at that cost, and board member Kurt Rickard noted any item did not have to be sold without going to the board. The board is notified regardless of what is sold.

The board approved completion and final acceptance of the high school/middle school construction project. The final payment of $100,000 for the $21,359,638 project was also approved.

In personnel, the resignations of Alyssa Maher as assistant varsity girls track coach, Lori Frick as assistant varsity volleyball coach, Jimmie Clark as a bus driver and Deb Bauer as part-time high school custodian were accepted. Hired were Katie Danner as assistant varsity girls track coach at $2,506 and Chase Bennett as a substitute bus driver.

The board approved a high school band request for a trip to Chicago, addition of South Tama Schools to the WaMac conference in 2014-15, first reading of a new policy on use of motor vehicles, and a school funding resolution on allowable growth. In summary the resolution asks for 4 percent allowable growth. The School Administrators of Iowa and Iowa Association of School Boards will forward the resolution to legislatures.