Staring at a $7.2 million budget deficit, the Warren County School District is open to suggestions on how to reduce that figure.
Of that amount, $4.8 million is linked to cutbacks in Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget plan to reduce the state's $4.16 billion deficit.
To collect suggestions, a budget team formed by Superintendent Dr. Robert Terrill held its initial meeting Tuesday evening. The team is charged with coming up with ways to reduce the deficit and then presenting that list to the school board, along with advantages, disadvantages and cost analysis of each.
Terrill facilitated Tuesday's meeting and welcomed any and all ideas and stressed that he felt positive and optimistic that the reductions could be made.
Terrill started by suggesting that his annual salary of $140,454 be reduced by $2,500 and that his health insurance cost be reduced by a similar amount.
In all, the team compiled a list of 111 suggestions.
Some were large in scale, such as:
Delaying action on the district's Master Facilities Plan for two years;
Having students in kindergarten, first-, and second-grade students at Allegheny Valley Elementary School in Clarendon and Sheffield Elementary School attend Allegheny Valley and having third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students from those school attend Sheffield Elementary. The change, it was explained, would eliminate five teaching positions;
Implementing a four-day school week;
Freezing wages for one year;
Keeping furloughed teachers on as permanent substitutes, which would eliminate the use of Kelly Services, Inc.;
Eliminating certain administrative positions.
Other suggestions included
Energy efficiency measures;
Replacing textbooks with technology and online instruction;
Reducing the number of vacation days given to staff;
Renegotiating existing contracts for savings;
Eliminating cell phones for district personnel;
Reinstating half day kindergarten;
Raising the cost of school lunches.
The budget team is comprised of the district's Temporary Business Administrator Larry Conrad; new Business Administrator Jim Grosch; Central Office directors Amanda Hetrick, Amy Stewart, and Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht; Business Information Supervisor Barbara Cook; four citizens: Denny Bonace (central attendance area), Terry Williams (western), Chris Cochran (eastern), and Randy Peterson (northern); four student board representatives: Tyler Fritz (Youngsville High School), Julianna Ely (Sheffield Area Middle High School), Brent Foster (Eisenhower Middle High School) and John Wortman (Warren Area High School); labor group representatives: Claudia Solinko (Warren County Education Association), Lisa Moldovan (Administrative Support), Matt Jones (ACT 93 Non-Certificated President), Gary Weber (ACT 93 Certificated President), and Dave Shaffer represented by Clara McKotch (WCSSA).
Terrill explained that no idea would be off the table and that team members would be assigned items to look into for cost analysis and report back at the next meeting, which will be held at the Warren County Career Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 30.
A link was recently added to the school district's website explaining the governor's proposed state budget as well as board committee information and an example of a proposed five-year district budget.
The team's target completion date for formulated budget reduction ideas is April 14.