The on Monday night approved a that would increase the number of furlough days for all employees, reduce some high school course offerings and result in the termination of 25 to 30 employees.
"It disheartens me greatly that we're looking at people and saying, 'You don't have a position with us any longer,'" Superintendent John Harper said.
The revenues attained from the reductions total $3.15 million. Among the top money savers are cutting $672,052 in expenses by mandating that all workers except 236-day employees take seven furlough days; the elimination of for $342,872.92; cutting $297,152.84 by eliminating media center clerks; and saving $299,873 by furloughing 236-day employees for five days.
"The feedback we get is, 'I'd rather have a job. Reduce our days,'" Harper said.
While some coaching positions will be eliminated, which is estimated to save the school system $48,000, . Middle school office staff also will see affects. Employees will be shifted to vacant positions, saving $62,268.32.
Two other areas projected to see big savings are the driver’s ed program and the alternative program. The school system is required to offer driver’s ed classes, but Harper said those courses will no longer be offered during the school day. Instead, they will be taught on weekends, holidays and in the summer. That change is expected to save $198,301.74. The program also will be fee-based.
"It's a behind the scenes program," Harper said.
The alternative is shifting from the Ombudsman program to the newly-opened , which is . A few teachers and a parapro will be involved, and that move should save $129,000.
Other recommendations include eliminating all non-competitive field trips, decreasing the instructional calendar from 180 days to 175 days and lengthening some school days, eliminating high school courses with low enrollment and increase the millage rate from 17.90 mills to 19.40 mills, which Harper said will equate to $60 a year for a $100,000 home.
Board member Anna Sullivan said the recommendations have the school system's best interests at heart.
"I do believe that we truly don't have many other options with what we're looking at," the of the board said. "The board has not just taken these pieces and accepted them for what it is. There has been a lot of discussion back and forth trying to figure out what's the best choice.
"We need your understanding as we make these cuts. And, this may not be the end. We may be looking at a harder year in the future, too. We look for your support as a community when we look for sacrifices. You have our pledge that we will continue to try to make the best decisions that we can."
Despite the cuts the board approved, Harper said the school system likely will have to take $5 million from its reserve for the next fiscal year. This year, the school system took $9 million out of the fund balance.
More than $5 million in reserves will be used to balance next year's budget. The school system won't be left with much of a fund balance after next year, the superintendent said.
"I don't know what we'll do the following year because we won't have enough money to dip into the fund balance," Harper said. "We've all agonized over this information, and it's caused me terrific angst."
Board Chairman Davis Nelson said he doesn't see anything changing for next year.
"I don't believe we're at the end of this road," Nelson said. "I don't see legislators stepping up to the plate saying, 'We're going to help K-12 school systems.'”