The Bay-Waveland School Board approved a wide range of budget cuts this week in efforts to make up an anticipated $1.8 million deficit the system is facing for its next budget year.
Among other things, cuts included reducing budgets for individual schools, slashing one hour per day off the work week for some non-certified employees, reducing teacher pay, revising schedules, and adjusting vacation and sick pay policies.
Still, officials said, the system needs to cut even more before adopting a new budget for School Year 2010-2011.
“We’re not trying to save. We’re trying to survive, and we’re not there,” School Superintendent Rebecca Ladner told the board before her cost reduction recommendations were approved Monday.
The system already lost $621,000 in state aid from its current fiscal year’s budget, and expects to lose at least a similar amount next budget year. But the biggest blow has come from Hurricane Katrina, which caused an exodus of large numbers of students who have never returned.
This week, the Bay-Waveland system had 1,722 students, Ladner said – a return rate from pre-Katrina numbers of only 71.9 percent. Student population has substantial bearing on how much financial support schools receive.
Board members have stressed that few employees actually stand to lose their jobs at this point. But almost everyone will feel some heat from the cuts.
Non-certified employees including secretaries and maintenance and grounds workers, for instance, will go from eight to seven-hour work days. One secretary attending Monday’s meeting said that loss alone will cost her the equivalent of 31 days of salary per year.
Certified teachers who have announced resignations or retirements after this school year are not being replaced. Ladner said the district currently has 152 teachers and 20 administrators, with 295 employees in all, including certified and non-certified workers.
In other reduction areas:
• One school librarian and one nurse will not be replaced.
• Spending will be reduced on textbooks and technology expenses. Ladner said the district currently has ample textbooks on hand, and the reduction will not harm student performance.
• Local supplements to teacher salaries, which are added to money received from the state, will be reduced by $1,000.
• Salary scales are being frozen.
• All schools will be closed the week of July 5-9.
• Vacation days will be taken away from all employees who work less than 12 months annually.
• Work days will be reduced for three assistant principals, and counselors will be reduced from 12 months of work to 11 months.
• Budgets for individual schools will be cut from a current level of $75 times current enrollment numbers to $50.
This list is by no means comprehensive, because the budget cuts are highly technical in nature, and differ among various job classifications. But even after all the cuts are considered, officials said, the district is still about $700,000 higher in expenses than it needs to be.
“Our objective is that anybody who walked in the door this morning has a job, and anybody who leaves at the end of the day has a job,” Ladner said.
BY: J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo