Facing a decline in state and federal education spending, the is preparing to cut up to eight staff jobs and possibly close the Sumner pool.
The move -- an effort to bridge an estimated $1.1 million budget gap officials say -- isn’t the final word on the district budget. That will come when the state finalizes its own budget in coming weeks.
“There is no new money. We need to reshape how we do things while keeping kids in mind,” said Debbie Campbell, executive director of Business Services for the Sumner School District.
If the state goes into a special session, a final decision may not happen before the May 15 deadline to approve the state budget.
Among the cutbacks:
- District will no longer offer gymnastics and tennis at the middle school level.
- Reduce and reorganize athletic schedules, programs, transportation and coaching stipends for a program reduction, as needed, for as much as $125,000.
- Enact furlough days for administrators and staff, as needed.
- Eliminate approximately six certificated, full-time positions as necessary to adjust to the enrollment reduction of at least 95 students.
- Cut one full-time employee in Work Based Learning at the high school level.
- Cut one full-time Senior Project Coordinator position.
- Cut one full-time maintenance and operations position.
- Eliminate the building Technology Coordinator position
If the district decides to permanently close the Sumner pool, it could save the district an estimated $150,000, not including personnel cost. The 17,000-square-foot pool cannot be drained and left empty or it would pop out of the ground. Chemically-treated, heated water must continually circulate through the pool to keep it clean. The pool already operates on a seasonal schedule only and is mainly used by the Titans swim team.
If the district decides to keep the pool open, it would reduce 15 custodial positions from year-round to school-year only, as needed.
District officials passed the resolution Wednesday night to itemize cuts before May 15, the teacher contract renewal cutoff date for the 2011-2012 school year.
The actual shortfall of the Sumner School District is $3.4 million, district budget analysts said. But because the district has a $2 million reserve and other short-term revenue sources, including a local levy, the first-year losses can be partially offset.
“We are starting at zero, going into next year, versus having a pool of money to begin with,” said Debbie Campbell.
At the April 27 special meeting, members struggled with the wording of the resolution and didn’t see the changes as cuts to funding, especially since one-time or temporary state funding was included in the definition.
“In my mind, we’re not really talking about true cuts. I think $3.4 million in ‘adjustments’ reflects what this really is,” said board president Sherm Voiles.
“Some of the wording we use doesn’t make sense to anybody, we understand that,” replied Campbell.
The School Board is considering filling the pool with concrete to close it permanently and convert the facility into extra classroom or portable space. Another option would be to "mothball" the pool and fill it with sand to close it temporarily until the economy picks back up. The estimated cost to build a new pool is between $6 and $7 million, while the cost to renovate the existing pool could be higher. No exact numbers were available.
“I’m a big believer in the idea that there should be a community pool, because there are an awful lot of kids in this community who need to learn to swim, and our proximity to the water makes that essential,” said school board member Rick Hendricks. “There is a lot of talk about a YMCA in our future, but a lot of those kids won’t have the opportunity to swim at the Y because they don’t have the money to join. The community should offer a more affordable option.”
After much discussion, the board decided to amend the resolution to exclude pool closure and all additional cuts, including the 15 custodial staff positions, to the next board meeting.
Superintendent Gil Mendoza is also prepared to present necessary reduced salary and wage schedules. Mendoza is authorized to make any other reductions or reorganizations needed to balance the budget.