The Centerville School Board cut two more positions during the Tuesday, March 27 meeting, but didn't cut three others that were in consideration. They also okayed publishing a proposed tax increase for the 2012-2013 budget.
First on the agenda though, special education teacher Rhonda Raskie spoke before the board. She asked that as the board was considering future cuts, they keep the educational environment of the secondary students in mind as much as they had done with the elementary students.
"Within…our district we have a high percentage of at-risk students and students who have been identified in need of special services," said Raskie. "At the last board meeting you cut three positions that directly impact these students, two tutors for the at-risk students and one full-time aide for special needs students. I didn't hear questions about what supports would be in place for those students…You need to dig deeper with your questions to make sure what's being offered at the secondary level meets the needs of all our students…I decided to speak to you for those who can't or won't. You're not going to hear the voices of parents who have…academically challenged students. Parents of struggling learners are not going to come forward and physically identify their children as such. I would respectfully present that it's not just about making our high school the right size, but making sure our district has the right beliefs about the educational experience of our secondary children.. "
The board voted to cut a second special education teacher, this time in the 7-12 grade range. Board member Marty Braster voted against. They had previously cut an elementary special education teacher at the March 13 meeting. This cut would provide an estimated $50,000 in savings.
They also voted to cut the high school assistant principal position. Jim Knott, who is the current assistant principal and athletic director will be leaving at the the end of the 2012 school year. The board then voted to move the athletic director responsibilities to business director and curriculum manager, Rob Busch, with a $25,000 raise. Braster voted against. This cut would provide approximately $70,000 in savings, after including the raise for Busch.
Board member Michelle Moore also asked that the administrators look into possibly cutting one of the secretary positions at the high school. Superintendent Tony Ryan said the administrators would come back to the board with a suggestion at the next meeting.
Board member Tom Lange made a motion to remove the librarian position from consideration of being cut. The board approved the motion. Superintendent Ryan asked the board to also remove the P.E. teacher position from consideration of being cut for at least one year. He said if the position was cut, it would cause scheduling conflicts. The other position the board talked about was the attendance officer. They decided to look into possibly moving the position to the Ed Center and asked the administrators to come back to them at the next meeting to see if that would be a possible solution to enable the school to keep the position.
The board accepted the resignations of Jason Smith and Tom Owca as custodians at the high school, Max Barber as bus driver and Willard Armstrong as bus driver and assistant mechanic. They also accepted the resignation of Emily Stephens as high school science teacher. They accepted the retirements of Martha Wendland from food service at Mystic Elementary and Martha Duley from special education at Lakeview.
The board okayed publishing a proposed budget with a possible increase in the tax rate. The current tax rate is $18.84 per $1,000 of valuation. The proposed rate to be voted on at the budget hearing will be $19.10 per $1,000 of valuation, a $0.26 increase. Most of the board was okay with publishing a proposed increase, although they wanted more discussion during the budget hearing before voting on the rate.
During the budget hearing the board may vote to approve the proposed tax rate or may vote to approve a rate lower than what was proposed. They may not vote to approve a rate higher than what was proposed. This swayed many on the board to approve publishing the proposed increase, even though several were not committed to raising the rate. Since the financial situation is still in flux they will have a better understanding of the tax rate needs by the next meeting.
The board also considered the second and final reading of policy primer "Debt Compliance Regulation" and approved it.
The board approved payment of invoices and then adjourned.
The next board meeting and budget hearing will be held Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Administration Building.