Brandywine board, teachers’ union to enter into mediationPublished 8:55am Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The Brandywine school district needs to cut about $1.4 million from next year’s budget, superintendent John Jarpe announced at Monday night’s board of education meeting. The budget shortfall amounts to about half of the district’s $3.1 million in fund equity.
Jarpe also presented some preliminary suggestions for some of those cuts, the major slash hitting instructional staff. He proposed $820,000 in instructional staff cuts, which would mean the layoffs of nine to 11 teachers. The teacher cuts should not come as much of a surprise, as Jarpe was upfront that there would be a need for layoffs at last month’s board meeting.
Transportation changes could save the district $100,000, while clerical staff reductions could amount to $15,000. The district could save another $60,000 in energy and utility reduction, day care program cuts and changes in the athletics busing.
The total of Jarpe’s proposed cuts amounts to almost $1 million, leaving another $400,000 still to be slashed.
The district needs to pass a balanced budget by the end of June, and teacher layoffs must be made by April 30, according to Jarpe.
Sue Furney, director of finance and operations for the district, reminded the board that the $3.1 million fund balance is “not a savings account” and shouldn’t necessarily be used to balance the coming school year’s budget.
“It needs to be a fund balance for the shortfalls that may come from the state any time during the year,” she said. “We need to also have money for those one-time, unexpected expenditures.”
Furney also added that the district will need to make significant changes in the future as well. According to her projections, if the district makes no changes to the budget, it will have a negative $1.7 million fund equity heading into 2013-14.
“If we were to continue going on doing business the way we are, hoping the world gets better, we would be in serious trouble, without a doubt,” she said.
Jarpe also provided an update on the status of negotiations over a teachers’ contract with the teachers’ association on Monday. Bargaining since December, the board and the teachers’ association have still not reached an agreement and will enter mediation on April 12 with a state mediator assisting the two parties in reaching an agreement.
“(We) have met in good faith on eight different occasions to try to reach an agreement,” Jarpe said. “We are hopeful that we can resolve the issue and reach agreement on April 12.”
The contract with teachers expires at the end of June 2011, but salaries and benefits for 2009-10 and 2010-11 still need to be negotiated.
Jarpe said due to “uncertain economic forecasts, the loss of revenue and further projected losses in aid to schools,” the board could not offer any new money for teachers’ salaries and benefits. Meanwhile, the teachers’ association has requested a salary increase.
The board also has requested that teachers at the middle/senior high school voluntarily switch from the current class schedule to a seven-period day, but the teachers are unwilling.