Archive for Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Board approves cutting 22 positions

April 14, 2010

De Soto USD 232 will have fewer administrative and support positions in the coming school year.

Board of Education members on Monday agreed to a plan that includes trimming 22 staff positions and will save the district $1.835 million in the 2010-11 school year. Cuts in state funding to public schools necessitated the reductions.

“These reductions just break us even as best as we can project for next year,” said Ken Larsen, the district’s director of finance.

The vast majority of the savings will be achieved through attrition, either retirements or shifting the current staff into new positions.

Among administrative positions eliminated were the elementary associate principal/ learning coach posts at Mize and Starside elementary schools and the learning coach position at Prairie Ridge Elementary.

Alvie Cater, the district’s spokesman, said the plan leaves the district with seven remaining learning coaches, some of whom will travel to multiple schools in the coming year.

Other approved personnel cuts include teacher’s aides, custodians, a middle school athletic director, groundskeepers and secretaries.

The board first heard the proposed reductions at the March 8 meeting.

At that meeting, the board also heard options to increase district revenues, including raising school, activity and transportation fees and converting the high school schedules to periods rather than the current block schedule.

Larsen asked members to keep in mind revenue options for later discussions.

“After next year we lose the $2.4 million in federal stimulus money, unless the federal government comes in with another package. We will have to fill that gap,” Larsen said. “There are some things, like block scheduling, that you don’t want to take out of your mind, but you have to keep a few things held back that we may be forced to do later, whether you want to do or not.”

In other business Monday, the board:

• Approved improvements to the Mill Valley High School football field. The approved plan, estimated to cost $49,435, would strip, level-grading and replace sod on the entire field.

• Discussed an increase the district’s reservation fee for afterschool use of gymnasiums from $100 to $150. Since enacting a new fee schedule in July 2009, the district has taken in more than $90,000 in facility use revenue. However, Jack Deyoe, director of operations, said the revenue is not enough to cover the entire cost of keeping buildings open afterschool.

Deyoe said an increase to the reservation fee would help the district recoup utility costs.

The board decided to keep the facility use fees at the current level.

• Discussed an activity programming fee for students.

Superintendent Ron Wimmer explained an activity programming fee in place in the Blue Valley School District. He said the participation fee — charging students for participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities — would be a way for USD 232 to maintain supplemental contracts for coaches and directors of afterschool programs.

Based on the Blue Valley model, fees would range from $10 to $45, depending on a student’s grade level.

The board directed Wimmer to research the fee program further for a report at a future board meeting.

Sidebar:

The Board of Education in De Soto USD 232 announced four special meetings to take place this week to allow board members to interview candidates for the district’s superintendent position.

The first of the meetings was Tuesday; additional meetings will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and at 9 a.m. Saturday at the district’s Administrative Offices, 35200 W. 91st St., De Soto.

The board will meet in executive session with the candidates.

Alvie Cater, director of administrative services and community relations, said the district had cut the pool of candidates to seven or eight applicants.

Cater said the board could select two or three finalists after the initial round of interviews, then could announce a new superintendent Monday.

The board plans for whoever is selected to work as superintendent-elect, beside Ron Wimmer, USD 232 interim superintendent, for the 2010-11 school year. Wimmer replaced Sharon Zoellner, who resigned in spring 2009 to become superintendent of the Louisburg USD 416.

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