Brandywine examines budget for possible ways to cut

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Like most school districts in the state, Brandywine Public Schools is bracing itself for budget cuts.
With the state looking at ways to reduce a $350 million shortfall in the amount of money it funds school districts for students, the school district could lose $196 per student.
The allowance is currently $6,700 per student.
The cut would mean a little more than $300,000 in lost revenue for the school district.
In addition, the school district is also facing increased expenses of $288,075, which currently brings expenses over revenue for the 2003/2004 budget at $596,973.
At a special meeting on Monday, the Brandywine school board addressed the issue by doing a review of the 2003/2004 budget and priorities.
Gus Damaske, the district's director of finance, first went through the budget and explained budget changes that have been made to save the school district money.
Following Damaske's presentation, the school board, led by interim superintendent, Gary Campbell, discussed short and long-term courses of action that will benefit the school district financially.
Campbell recommended the board consider two courses of action.
Campbell, who said legislators are currently looking at several ways to reduce the proposed foundation allowance cut, said the school district needs to look at reducing expenses in different ways.
Campbell brainstormed and said one way to reduce expenses is by reducing staff, and perhaps even looking at what title one funding is used for.
Title one money is used for reading and math programs for children with special needs, technology and professional development.
Campbell also presented the idea of imposing a moratorium on the budget for the entire year, meaning all non-essential capitol outlay would be postponed until next July.
Discontinuing field trips for students in the school district was another suggestion that was presented.
Campbell, however, said he wants to minimize the impact on personnel.
Mike Shelton, school board trustee, said the broadest task for the school district is to come as close to a balanced budget as possible.
He said the school district needs to analyze the effectiveness of class scheduling and make sure the school district is efficient.
The school board also discussed alternative ways of offering programs, such as online classes and shared time programs. But, the school board also briefly discussed the possibility of looking into reducing the district's athletic programs to save money. Dennis Cooper, school board treasurer, agreed it's important to look at ways to reduce expenses.

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