Saturday, May 18, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
February 19, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- Closing Henry Hill Elementary School versus a mix of personnel cuts, reorganization and wage freezes -- Central School District leaders must settle on one of those scenarios by late March.
The district announced earlier this month that it would be wrestling with a $750,000 general fund deficit for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
With three principals set to retire in June, officials broached the subject of using this as a catalyst to restructure school operations to ensure a more sustainable level of expenses for future budgets.
Central School Board identified on Feb. 12 repurposing Henry Hill or a hybrid of other cuts or changes as the two key components of its upcoming budget cycle.
Forums to glean feedback from staff and community members are scheduled Tuesday and March 6. The board will make a decision before the start of Spring Break.
"The biennium starts now," said Superintendent Buzz Brazeau. "If you don't make a decision right now, you'll have to wait another two years."
"If you `right-size,' a tremendous amount of work has to happen before the end of the school year," he continued. "If you go the other way, there's a tremendous amount of work to decide what we take out of the budget ... it has to be prepared and balanced by the end of June."
By "right-sizing," Henry Hill students would be moved to the three remaining Central elementary schools, with resulting enrollments for each totaling more than 400.
Henry Hill would be used for district support services or community partnerships. Benefits would be similarly-sized classes among the schools and full-time physical education and music.
There would be cuts to administrative staff, custodians and library personnel if Henry Hill was closed. The number of licensed teachers in Central overall would remain at about 150.
"They might not be in exactly the same position, maybe we would have more third-grade teachers or fourth-grade teachers than we have now," said Rich McFarland, Central director of human resources.
The other scenario entails one-time cuts of staff, a compensation freeze, sharing principals between two elementary schools or adding high school principal to the superintendent's duties.
The board agreed that school days would only be reduced if a mid-year deficit manifested.
"The feedback I've heard has been interesting and mixed," Brazeau said. "I've heard the positive and the negative."
* Several informational forums on the district's budget issues and proposed changes are scheduled at multiple schools Monday and Tuesday.
Meetings will be held at Ash Creek Elementary School and Talmadge Middle School on Monday. On Tuesday, forums are scheduled at Henry Hill Elementary School, Independence Elementary School and Monmouth Elementary School.
All meetings start at 6:30 p.m.