School Board continues budget discussion at Thursday workshop

The Warren County School District Board of Directors talked about a list of potential reductions and additions on Thursday.

The Warren County School District Board of Directors continued to discuss budget issues at a workshop held Thursday evening.

The main points of discussion centered around a priority list of potential reductions and additions that board members had voted on. For reductions, board members were presented with 43 potential reductions and were asked to assign one of three number values to that reduction: (0) “Can’t live with cutting it”, (1) “Don’t want to cut, but can accept”, or (2) “Willing to cut”.

The potential reductions that received the highest average rating and were deemed first level cuts were the following: Two middle level full-time employees (FTE’s) for a savings of $176,000, two physics department FTE’s for a savings of $176,000, gifted support for a savings of $12,000, Title 1 cuts which include three FTE’s for a savings of $142,000, Title 2 cuts which include supplies and professional development for a savings of $17,000, PSAT reimbursement for a savings of $2,300, contingency reduced to $250,000 for a savings of $100,000, one full-time Librarian for a savings of $88,000, “Secondary Option #1” which includes 7 FTE’s for a savings of $616,000, and cuts to the seven year textbook plan (saving $205,000), seven year tech plan (saving $200,000), and seven year buildings and grounds plan (saving $200,000).

All of the high priority reductions received an average rating of at least 1.2 out of 2.0. If all are approved in the final budget, the school district would save a total of $1,934,300.

Notable potential reductions that received low ratings included athletic reduction (0.7 average rating), eliminate academic competitions (0.4), implement a four-day week (0.4), kindergarten half day (0.3), and special education cuts (0.1).

“The reduction list is not a list that we like to talk about,” said Superintendent Amy Stewart. “But unfortunately this is the scenario we are in right now.”

“Looking at this list, there are some things that are totally out of our control,” said board member Paul Mangione. “Any time you run a business, there are things that you do that work well and things that you do that don’t work so well. Things change. As far as the physics cuts go, physics just doesn’t play the same role in education that it used to. Consumer math has taken over in that regard.”

“We aren’t about cuts as much as we are about shifting resources,” said board member Donna Zariczny.

Stewart pointed out that the cuts to gifted support are strictly transportation related.

“We are looking to re-align how we offer gifted support,” Stewart said. “That’s a part of this.”

Rhonda Decker, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, added that the cuts were “truly just for transportation. There is still money allocated for gifted training, materials, and teachers.”

“I’m not seeing the gifted support reduction as a cut,” said Zariczny. “I’m seeing it more as a re-alignment that will allow gifted support to run more efficiently and save $12,000 in the process.”

High-Priority additions in the proposed budget include: Warren County Career Center transportation (cost of $18,370), one Speech & Language FTE ($88,000), one School Psychology FTE ($88,000), and Health Services at the WCCC ($88,000). The additions add up to $282,370.