Elective Teaching Positions Might Be Eliminated to Balance PBSD Budget
A Drivers Education position and two junior high Family and Consumer Sciences positions might be in jeopardy.
During a 3.5-hour finance committee meeting on Tuesday, Plum School Board members made $1.3 million worth of cuts—including three teaching positions.
About 100 parents, teachers and residents filled the auditorium at Oblock Junior High School as officials discussed the district's 2012-13 budget.
The district began with a $55.8 million budget that included a $3 million deficit. After making cuts and adjustments, officials were working to close a $1.4 million deficit on Tuesday.
The budget does not include a tax increase. The current millage is 22.2 mills, and it has not increased since 2005.
The board agreed to take $1.1 million from the $5.7 million fund balance to offset some of that extra cost.
Left with just over $400,000 to cut, the majority of the board agreed to make the following changes to the budget:
- The elimination of the Drivers Education program at the high school
- The elimination of the Family & Consumer Sciences program at the junior high
- The addition of a $50 activity fee for students who participate in after school activities
- The addition of a $25 extracurricular/club fee for students
- Taking $200,000 from a bond refinancing to help balance the budget
- A $2,000 reduction in the Oblock library budget
- The reduction of $38,000 for supplies, etc. for Aramark
Before agreeing to make those changes, several board members expressed their interest in taking the full $1.4 million from the fund balance to offset the deficit. Only four school board members were in favor—Loretta White, Tom McGough, Joe Tommarello and John St. Leger—so the motion failed.
White suggested sparing the elective courses this year in the hopes of evaluating them over the next year with an academic committee that would include officials, teachers and parents.
McGough said a fund balance that is between 3 to 8 percent of the total budget is considered "healthy." Plum's is 11 percent, making it a little bit more acceptable to use that money to prevent cuts, he said.
"You start at the fund balance because that's money the taxpayers already contributed," McGough said.
However, other board members said money from the fund balance will be needed in coming years for renovations to many of the elementary schools.
Parent Gwen Zaspel and her sons Kyle and Casey spoke highly of the family and consumer sciences courses in the district. They said the course teaches students to cook for themselves and clean up after themselves, as well as life skills needed on a day-to-day basis.
Moard member Sal Colella said the district was in a Catch 22.
"If we raise taxes, people won't come to the district," he said. "If we cut courses, the people won't come."
Though some members of the audience said they would be in favor of a tax increase to ensure the programs weren't cut, board member Andy Drake said he wasn't comfortable with that.
"I am not willing to stand up and say we're going to raise taxes," he said. "There are a lot of residents who are on fixed incomes and can't afford it."
Board member Shane McMasters agreed.
"We have to think about what that would do to the entire community," he said.
Audience members said the depth and range of the programs at Plum are what make the district attractive to people. Several of them who said they worked at surrounding school districts said they were afraid of what would become of the district should the electives be cut.
"We are not living up to our mission," one woman said.
Following the end of the meeting, the board went into an executive session to discuss personnel and contracts.
For a look at what already has been cut from the budget, read this Plum-Oakmont Patch article.
Officials expect to pass a preliminary budget at a special voting meeting on May 22 at 6 p.m. at the Plum High School cafeteria. The budget then will be on public display before final approval on June 26. That meeting will be held at the Plum High School auditorium at 7 p.m.
What do you think about these cuts? Would you be willing to pay more in taxes to retain the programs being cut? Tell us in the comments!