Archived Story

Schools weighing cuts

Published 12:31pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cassopolis Public Schools is looking at more than $500,000 in cuts for its 2012-13 budget.
Meeting in special session Monday night, the school board agreed to meet again March 19 with the organizational chart to review administrators so required 90-day notice can be given at the regular March 26 meeting.
The district is operating under a $10.6 million budget this school year, plus a 3 percent state increase in retirement that will add $152,000.
Salaries and benefits represent 79 percent of the budget.
The district began the year with a 23.2 percent fund equity and is on track to end the year at 10.3 percent, including a $470 per-pupil reduction, which equates to $524,050; reduction in student count, $82,000; and increased health care costs, $225,000.
The scenario for the coming year shows a beginning fund balance on July 1 of $1,094,812; revenues of $9,289,133; and expenses of $10,631, which would leave the fund equity at (-$247,533) or (-2.3 percent) by June 30, 2013, and deficit spending is not allowed by law.
Those numbers are based on no cuts or additional changes from current revenues and expenditures.
Financial Director Tricia Gaideski recommended the board consider cutting $500,000 to $600,000.
The situation can also be helped by increasing revenue with student counts and grants and decreasing expenses, such as through health care costs, privatization and larger class sizes.
The administration and adult education are in the process of vacating Red Brick School for Squires.
“It will be totally empty at that point,” Supt. Gregory Weatherspoon said. “We’ve got to do something with it. We’re not sure what.”
Privatization is being considered for transportation, custodian services and secretaries, but not food service, because it’s profitable.
“Our food service is lean and aggressive and operates very efficiently,” the superintendent said. “It generates revenue.
“We can’t do instructional para-pros or teachers.”
Custodial requests for proposals indicate savings of about $95,000.
What the school board discussed March 5 was unrelated to the less than 50-vote loss Feb. 28 of the sinking fund renewal for building repairs, which could be resurrected on the August ballot.
“We’ve got a 37-year-old high school building. The lockers are worn out. We’ve already done an energy retrofit on our boilers and lights and it’s depleted,” Weatherspoon said.

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