EDUCATION

FISCAL FOCUS: $2.3 million deficit

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

WHAT IS GOING ON? The Greencastle-Antrim School District is faced with a $2.3 million deficit in funding its $33.6 million 2011-12 proposed budget. Last month the school board voted to raise property taxes by 3 mills to fund the spending plan and directed the administration to come up with proposed cuts in an effort to balance the budget.

WHAT’S PLANNED? Dr. C. Gregory Hoover, district superintendent last week presented a list of items being looked at to close the gap in the budget, as follows:

• Eliminate 30 support staff positions

• Eliminate middle school extracurriculars

• Not replace four retiring teachers

• No pay increase for superintendent and administrators

• No pay increase for supervisors and exempt staff

• No pay increase for support staff

• No purchase of textbooks

• Not replace one retiring support staff

• Restructure district library

• Eliminate Title I summer reading program

• Reduce custodial staff by two through retirement

• Adjust medical insurance costs

• Reduce maintenance

• Reduce wages for bus down time

• Remove debt service for building project

• Reduce supplied, repairs and software in all buildings

• Reduce equipment repairs

• Reduce contracted services

• Reduce legal fees

• Reduce electricity and natural gas usage

The board had already indicated that it had taken a proposed $28.5 million renovation and expansion project off the table and made that official with a 7-1 vote last week.

In addition the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association surveyed its membership on whether its leadership should discuss with the administration ways to cut costs that would include a salary freeze. Alison McKissick, G-AEA president, informed the board last week that 75 to 80 percent of the members favor the talks.

“Our negotiation committee met with a small portion of the board and went over the proposed budget and saw the severity of some of the deep cuts and how they’re going to impact our children,” McKissick told the board.

The district’s teachers are currently working under the provisions of a five-year contract that runs through Aug. 31, 2012. Each year of the contract added a 3.8 percent raise on the career rate, totaling 19 percent for the five-year duration of the pact. The agreement also implemented a component in which teachers contributed to health insurance premiums. The contribution was implemented incrementally and would be 8 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.

WHAT’S NEXT: The meeting between G-AEA and the board was to take place this week. The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 19.