Chairman Randy Scamihorn was joined by board members Kathleen Angelucci, David Banks and Brad Wheeler in okaying the new budget.
The plan calls for drawing $22.2 million from reserves, cutting 182 teaching positions through attrition, reducing the school year from 180 days to 175 days, five furlough days for all district employees, delaying pay increases to mid-year and trimming central office spending by $1.8 million.
This is at the least a reasonable start to a tough job. It is not set in concrete.
The board will have time to consider, and reconsider, at its May 8 meeting — and citizens will have an opportunity to give their feedback at a May 16 public hearing.
It’s hard to see how or why the board should make deeper cuts now, as urged by the other three board members. That’s true even though the outlook is for another deficit problem of about $80 million when budget time rolls around again.
David Morgan called the majority’s budget “a Band-Aid” and talked about the potential deficit facing the board next school year.
“There’s a new normal in place,” he said.
Maybe so, but it seems to me that going ahead with the cuts proposed in the majority budget is the best course now.
Then, if the board has to make more cuts next year, that is the time to work through the options.
The economy might even improve enough to have some effect on the revenues.
There’s concern about cutting back on the planned online teaching program. But in my view, Ms. Angelucci hit the target on that issue.
She said “the concept is just a hope” and there are no “real numbers to prove that it will do what they say it will do.”
She said she could not vote to increase spending on that program with a clear conscience when facing such a huge budget deficit. Amen.
Angelucci also hit the nail on the head on the question of increasing class sizes, a major concern of parents that have emailed her.
It’s a legitimate concern, but as noted here previously, adding one or two students to a class should not be a huge problem.
Of greater concern, as Angelucci said, are the five furlough days, which will be instructional days.
“I’m having real heartburn with that,” she said. And it’s understandable, but in the end she decided she could live with the furloughs and her heartburn.
No doubt, the board majority feels some heartburn. But the heartburn goes with the job.
You have to wonder in times like these why anyone would want to go through the election process to gain a school board seat and then have to wade through the swirling currents of controversy over many, if not most, of the decisions the board makes.
This board majority gets an A for its budget plan.