The Warren County School District has two months to formally approve a budget.
That means we're hitting the heart of budget season.
And the word "furlough" might be creeping back into the vocabulary.
While the school board has scheduled a meeting for next Thursday to address the budget in depth, the administration laid out some information to the board's Finance Committee on Monday which included a prioritized list of budget additions and reductions.
And it's possible that could mean teacher furloughs.
Starting the process with a deficit of over $4 million without any type of tax increase, the administration proposed a total of $1,302,450 in budget reductions, highlighted by $900,000 that could be saved through the elimination of 16 teaching positions.
Of the 16, five are expected retirements with an additional one proposed to be eliminated. The remaining ten are furlough candidates with three projected at Warren Area Elementary Center, three at Youngsville Elementary Middle School and the remaining four across the district.
Director of Administrative Support Services Amy Stewart said that the cuts can be made while maintaining class sizes consistent with administrative procedures 28 students in the primary-grade classrooms and 31 in the intermediate.
She said it is easier to cut positions on the front end and add them back in later, especially in the kindergarten area where numbers are still not clear.
Interim Director of Pupil Service Ruth Nelson said, "The numbers are very similar to last year's numbers. We expect to gain additional K (kindergarten) students across the district before school opens."
Two of the positions, kindergarten at WAEC and YEMS, may need to be brought back should enrollment increase comparably to past years.
The other reductions include staff cuts in the Buildings and Grounds Department and in support staff, totaling $105,000, a $45,450 reduction in moving storage from the Tab Buildings to the former Pleasant Elementary School, an expected $10,000 generated through a Pleasant content auction, the sale of the former South Street Early Learning Center, which has already been approved, as well $100,000 in dedicated textbook money being re-allocated and a software licensing review of $14,000.
Business Manager Jim Grosch explained that with a tax increase and an exception for contributions to the state retirement system, the reductions would bring the deficit to around $2.1 million.
"That's right-sizing everything without us saying what we want to do new," he said.
The recommended additions include administrative staffing at WAEC, YEMS, Youngsville High School and Warren Area High School for $90,000, buildings and grounds utilities for $35,000, funding for a proposed health care program at the Warren County Career Center expected to cost $30,000 and 1.5 full-time equivalent special education teaching positions to be utilized at YEMS.
The largest proposed addition is in technology $850,000 to replace the server farm and enhance wireless infrastructure. While other items were listed as additions of lower priority, the additions outlined above would cost approximately $1,110,000.
Superintendent Dr. William Clark said the administration is "trying to put money in the budget to prepare for whatever happens at Russell" after it is closed, as well. "It looks like a lot of money but it gets gobbled up pretty quickly by the server farm."
The current server farm is approaching its fifth birthday.
Of the added special education positions at YEMS, Clark said the district is still "looking at additional staffing" as well as program alignment and professional development opportunities. All emotional support and autistic support students in the district currently attend YEMS.
Clark said that further reductions might be coming from administration but told the board not to expect any more proposed additions.
Speaking of his administrative team, Clark, who is in his first budget season as WCSD superintendent, said, "I trust these people and what they have laid out to me. I hate to take staff away because you have a quality district program, but you have a budget you need to meet.
"There is bleeding going on," Clark said of the budget. "(I) can't put my finger on it yet. I think we're stuck, going to have to do it ourselves. (I) wouldn't look to Harrisburg" for help. "These are the numbers we have to deal with and we can do (our) best going forward."