Field trips, extracurricular activities, activity buses, some kindergarten para-educators, 20 teaching positions and some bus routes are on the chopping block in the Central Valley School District because of a $3.4 million cut in money provided by the state.
The amount is still an estimate as the district analyzes the legislative budget passed Friday and anticipates a possible special legislative session, said Superintendent Ben Small.
The number includes administrative layoffs previously announced, but does not include federal stimulus money earmarked for special education because of strict limitations on how the money can be spent. “None of it comes to us flexibly,” Small said.
The district has been holding staff and community meetings since March to decide which programs to cut, and Small presented his recommendations to the school board Monday night.
“Is it perfect? No,” said Small. “Is it painless? No.”
Small said he tried to protect the learning environment in the classroom, which both staff and the community ranked as most important. “This is our best thinking as we move forward.”
Small organized the cuts into three tiers of about $1 million each. The first cuts will be the administrative office cuts, eliminating a collaboration day and eliminating the all-day kindergarten “Plus” program, which served low-income, high-risk students at Opportunity, Broadway and Progress elementaries. The kindergarten program can be reinstated using Title I federal stimulus money. “In order to replace it with Title I funds, we have to cut it,” Small said.
The plan also calls for the elimination of six bus routes serving children living within a mile of McDonald, South Pines and Progress elementary schools. Brad Wayland, director of facilities and operations, said there are no safety issues that would cause the children to be bused and no one is sure why the routes exist. “We don’t know why initially they were formed.”
Small also recommended eliminating small appliances like microwaves and coffee pots from classrooms to save on utilities costs.
The second tier of cuts includes all activity buses that take students home after sports practice or other after-school activities. The proposed cut likely to get a lot of attention from parents is chopping $100,000 from extracurricular and co-curricular activities. What exactly will be cut will be determined by a study to be completed some time in June.
The final tier of cuts is a reduction of 20 full-time equivalent teaching positions for a savings of $1.38 million. Small said this can be accomplished by reducing instructional coaches and academic support positions by half. He’s hopeful that the positions can be cut through attrition, but so far the number of retirements is down drastically.
Read more of this story in Thursday’s Valley Voice or online at spokesman.com