SR announces budget cuts

Karen Reynolds
Contributing Writer

The South Ripley Community School Corporation board of trustees met for their April meeting, where those attending would hear about the 2010 budget reduction plan.

The board gave unanimous approval to adopt the 2010 budget reduction plan as presented. Superintendent Ted Ahaus held a staff meeting prior to this board meeting to have a discussion with teachers about the plan. According to Ahaus, all areas of the school were affected but no programs were cut.

His goal is “to endure this unstable financial time while providing needed services for both students and staff. We are providing services and tightening the belt at the same time,” he noted. Ahaus said he hopes the economy recovers so that the school corporation can continue to offer the best education to its students. The plan provides some cuts in every area of the corporation.

The 2010 Budget Plan means an approximate cost saving of $374,765 for the remainder of 2010 and a total of $740,842 over 2010-2011. Following are some of the budget cuts:

• Administrative - eliminate one administrative position, freeze salaries for the 2010-2011 school year, and eliminate cell phone allowance.

• Elementary - eliminate two teaching positions, which are actually retirements, and eliminate a guidance position.

• High school - eliminate one teaching position, which is a retirement, and reduce two part time teaching positions, using retirees.

• Office staff - charge cafeteria fund for treasurer’s handling of café money, a two-hour a day position.

• Maintenance/custodial - eliminate all overtime, reduce a custodial position to half time, due again to a retirement, charge cafeteria fund for custodial cleaning time, two hours per day, reduce use of substitute, only use one if absence exceeds two days and reduce supply expenditures 10%.

• CPF/Technology - transfer of 5% of the capital project to the general fund as approved by the state legislature.

• Teacher contracts - reduce all general fund extended teacher contracts, that have a maximum of 195 days. What this means is that teacher contracts will be limited to 195 days. No jobs are lost. No contracts are lost. Those with extended contracts will be limited to 10-day extensions.

• Athletic - the athletic department will reimburse the transportation fund for the bus driver cost. Limit all athletic activities for teams other than varsity/reserve to four days per week. An annual participation fee of $50 will be paid by student athletes.

• Utilities - zone cooling throughout buildings during the summer months. Close the elementary school for public use in June and July. No personal kitchen appliances in classrooms. Eliminate 50% of outside lighting year round.

• Support staff - reduce two aide positions, both of which were resignations. Use substitute pay for the first 15 days of teacher leaves. Reduce speech therapy assistant expenses.

• General - Fifty percent reduction in Learning Center membership fees for 2010-2011. The school corporation usually pays for five seats at the career center, at a cost of $5,000. In addition, the school pays another $10,000 fee. This will be reduced by 50%. Part of the reason for this is that there will be a natural decrease in career center attendance for 2010-2011 school year.

This is happening because they are anticipating a decrease in enrollment, as sophomores will not be targeted to attend the Southeastern Career Center.

However, Ahaus was quick to point out that no child will be denied services. “Kids are not denied but we have a smaller group of 15-20 students signed up,” he said.

Reduce supply expenditures by 10%. Eliminate student summer workers. Freeze non-certified employee salaries and benefits for the 2010-2011 school year. The State of Indiana will be paying for AP exams, which will save the corporation some money. There will be no summer school this year. Ahaus assured the group that there is not as much need for summer school at this time because the ISTEP testing has been moved to the spring, not the fall.

The projected savings of $740,842 cannot be fully calculated due to utility costs, which can’t be predicted. There could be even more cuts coming from the state level.

In personnel matters, unanimous approval was given for the following:

• Resignation of Amber Wenning, elementary teacher, effective the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

• Reduction of the extended contracts of agriculture, band, junior high counselor, elementary counselor, boys' basketball coach, elementary media specialist, high school media specialist to 195 days, elementary special education coordinator and high school special education coordinator to 190 days.

• Summer work crew at the high school as presented by Principal Bob Meyer.

• Summer work crew at the elementary school as presented by Principal Mark Collier.

• Employment of Marlin Kohlmeier and Steve Snyder for summer 2010 driver education instructors.

• FMLA request from Carole Swinney, South Ripley Elementary cafeteria worker, retroactive from March 19-April 5, 2010.

In other business, Supt. Ahaus recognized student Derrick Wade for winning the oratorical speech contest sponsored by the Versailles American Legion. Wade then competed at the district level and earned second place. President Ralph Miller congratulated Wade, who was presented with a certificate of recognition, pin, and a Raider umbrella.

In financial news, monthly building project claims of $32,896 were presented and approved.

In other news, unanimous approval was given for the following:

• Changes to the South Ripley Jr.-Sr. High School attendance policy as per the first reading at the March 2010 board meeting, effective for the 2010-2011 school year.

• Math textbook adoption of the MacMillan/McGraw Hill as submitted by the South Ripley Elementary Math Adoption Committee. Board member Jim Miller asked about the State of Indiana recommendation to delay adoptions. Dr. John Mehrle, assistant superintendent, explained that the South Ripley committee was ready to move forward with the adoption. The request to delay adoptions evolves around international standards. Each school is making individual decisions about whether or not to delay adoption because of international standards.

• Field trip to take Kelly Sparks junior journalism students to attend the 87th Annual Scholastic Journalism Convention held at Columbia University in New York on March 16-18,2011. The only cost to South Ripley School Corporation will be the substitute teacher.

• Environmental Club to plant trees around the jr.-sr. high school on Earth Day. Board members did state their concern with planting trees in the new concrete islands. The concern involved the root systems possibly breaking up the pavement and concrete.

• Route extension for bus route #2 from 46 miles to 52.6 miles, retroactive to January 27, 2010. This is a correction from a previously approved route extension.

• New copier lease with IKON Office Solutions.

Under information items, Assistant Superintendent John Mehrle gave an update on the implementation of an algebra program. Curriculum development will take place over the summer. Dr. Mehrle also stated he has been in contact with the state regarding designation of the junior high as a separate entity.

Those present at the April meeting were Jim Miller, Ralph Miller, Randy McIntosh, Gil Landwehr, Superintendent Ted Ahaus, Dr. John Mehrle, Merritt Alcorn, school attorney, and Lana Miller, business manager. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be May 17 at 6:30 p.m.