The McPherson Board of Education finally addressed the lingering black cloud that has been haunting the district for months.
During Monday’s BOE meeting, board president Donna Viola outlined a list of proposed cuts to settle the district’s looming $650,000 budget shortfall, which has occured as a result of multiple education funding cuts. Through a series of retreats, board members have culled through the district’s operations, staffing, athletics and programs to find ways to trim its operating budget. Items under consideration for cuts or modifications were placed on one of three lists: not recommended at this time, still under serious consideration and for reduction in 2010-11. The third list, “for reducation in 2010-11,” contains the programs and expenditures the board is most seriously considering eliminating or reducing.
Those items on the “for reduction in 2010-11” included:
*Cutting custodial operations and staff by 10 percent
*Cut overtime for classified staff
*Use textbook dollars (one time)
*Close lunch at McPherson High School
*Eliminate central office copy center
*Cut staff at McPherson High School
*Reduce district librarians
*Not purchasing library books for one year
*Increase percentage of principal salaries from Headstart and Special Education funds
*Cut transportation by 5 percent to 10 percent
*Combine Learning Center and MAC staff
*Reduce staffing at Park Warehouse
*Cut Parents as Teachers program
*Eliminate boys and girls swimming
*Cut athletic transportation
*Eliminate two basketball coaches
*Eliminate boys’ golf
*Eliminate flu shots
If all of the above listed cuts were implemented, the district would save $687,000. (For more information on each item see the district’s Web site at www.mcpherson.com/418) At this point, all of the items on the list are only proposals Viola said. The list of cuts could increase if the state further decreases its per-pupil funding. If that were to occur within this fiscal year, the board would be forced to make up a larger budget gap. During the coming weeks, board members will gather comments from parents, teachers, administrators and community members and make the final decision on budget cuts in May.
District superintendent Dr. Randy Watson noted that school financing is a very complex issue and that much of the funds alloted to the district by the state can only be used for specific purposes. For example, Watson said, money being used to pay for the HV/AC upgrades at McPherson Middle School this summer can not be used for payroll or general expenditures.
“I wanted to point that out because the state earmarks dollars for special purposes,” Watson said. “Only about 40 percent can be used for anything. Everything else is specified for a specific use.”
Law makers will not release any additional funding information until about the first of May which means school districts will not be able to make final decisions on cuts until that time.