Study sets off immigration bill squabble

May 6, 2013

The Delaware City School Board today will consider slashing $2.5 million from its budget in preparation for a potential double-digit percent cut in state funding.

Superintendent Paul Craft said budget cuts could include cutting teachers, administrators and support staff, putting restrictions on field trips and making more cuts to the building and department operational budgets.

“We really hoped to do all position cuts through attrition,” Craft said. “It just doesn’t look possible with the size of cut we have to make. People we really want to keep on our team and people who want to stay won’t be able to.”

Ohio school districts are all anticipating major cuts in state funding when Gov. John Kasich unveils the state budget this week. The Delaware School District is preparing for a 25-percent decrease in state funding, Craft said.

“We received more projections on what we can expect from the state cuts,” Craft said. “We’re really being driven by those projections. It’s frustrating. We’ve been cutting all along. Even without the large state cut, we have a large projected deficit.”

Craft’s proposal comes after $1.43 million in cuts to address the district’s projected deficit in fiscal year 2012. Those cuts eliminated seven certified and two classified positions through attrition and made specific line article reductions and across-the-board discretionary cuts.

In this latest round of cuts, Craft didn’t specify what positions would be eliminated.

“So much of that will play out over the course of the next few weeks when we come up with dates of retirements or resignations,” Craft said.

Craft said the cuts were “truly across-the-board.”

“This is a big enough cut that there’s really no area that’s going to be spared completely,” he said.

Restrictions on field trips and groups could include a 50-mile limit to save on fuel and staff and bus time. This will figure into athletics scheduling as well, Craft said.

“There are teams we have played before that we just won’t be able to,” said Craft. Among those teams would be Newark, Lancaster, London and Findlay.

Potential music competitions could be outside the 50-mile limit as well, Craft said.

As for building and department operational budgets, the district will have to cut some supplies, materials, text and library books.

“The hard thing is that so many of those costs are fixed,” Craft said. “We have to continue to pay for the Internet connection and fuel on buses, so actual cuts in those supplies and materials budget are as deep as 30 to 40 percent.”

While the district doesn’t anticipate a larger cut, it’s possible that state funding cuts won’t be as high as the 25-percent mark, Craft said.

“We’ll have those things that are on the line,” Craft said. “If it’s a little better, we’ll know what we can save, but if it’s worse, we have to go to it.”

The board has continued to discuss a potential operating and bond levy to deal with its projected budget deficits past the fiscal year of 2012 and district-wide renovation proposal.

The facilities committee has examined the district’s space issue and is considering an option that would move fifth-graders back into renovated and expanded elementary schools; move sixth-graders into an expanded Dempsey Middle School; renovate and expand Hayes High School; and develop Willis Intermediate School into a unified, district administration building.

Board members have agreed that both operating and bond funding is needed, but haven’t decided when and in what configuration it should be presented to voters. The board could still go for the November 2011 ballot, and Craft would like the board to make a decision either way by May.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where we won’t go with an operating levy,” Craft said. “As painful as this $2.5 million is, it would require a $5-million cut next year on a budget of $41 million. The real question is facilities. We can’t continue to push it off. It’s not an easy decision.”

The board will hear a full report from Craft at its meeting set for 5:30 p.m. today at the district’s technology center, 621 Pennsylvania Ave., Delaware.