The Jefferson Village School Board got their first look at the proposed 2010-11 budget at their meeting March 1.
Overall, the budget is down 4 percent from last year’s budget, but the local contribution to the budget is up more than 7 percent.
“It comes down to devastating losses in state funding,” Supt. Bob Bouchard told the school board.
The exact amount of money the school is losing in state subsidy isn’t known, but it looks like it’s going to be almost $300,000, according to the budget.
Bouchard said JVS is in better shape than other schools because they don’t normally get that much in state subsidy, so “they can’t take that much away,” he said.
The budget presented at the meeting is an initial draft, and will almost certainly change as it seeks approval by the school board, budget committee, and the final town vote on Tues., March 30.
The board set a tentative date of March 15 for a public hearing to present the budget.
“With the amount of money we lost from the state, it’s not as bad as it could be,” said Principal Peter Gallace. “We hope the voters will see that we’re doing our best to downsize.”
There are four staff positions being cut in this budget – two teaching positions and two education technicians, who work one-on-one with special needs students, Gallace said.
They will also cut hours from a secretarial position from six per day to four, Gallace said.
One of the teaching positions being cut belongs to a teacher who is retiring, and who will not be replaced. One of the Ed Techs being cut works with a current 8th grade student who will be going to high school next year.
“We’ve talked to the local preschools, and we don’t anticipate an influx of special needs students next fall,” said Gallace.
The bigger problem the school faces with the cut in teaching positions is that the 4th grade class will have 21 students, Gallace said.
The school plans to cope with the large class by trying something new, Gallace said.
The class will be split into smaller groups for many subjects taught by teachers in other departments. The physical education teacher is certified to teach health classes and the art teacher is certified to teach K-8, so she will teach reading or math classes for the 4th graders, Gallace said.
The second Ed Tech (a 504 position) being cut is an Ed Tech who works one-on-one with a diabetic student to make sure their medical needs are seen to.
The school currently has three diabetic students, who all came into the school in the last three years, Gallace said.
Based on recommendations by medical professionals, the school will hire a full-time nurse to work with students with special medical needs, Gallace said.
The new nurse will not only allow for the elimination of the Ed Tech positions, but will be trained and certified to work with the students, Gallace said.
“The Ed Techs do a great job,” Gallace said, “but we want to have someone who’s medically certified to work with students with medical needs.”
The school board will also be wrestling with the need to replace an aging school bus. The draft budget includes $75,000 to purchase a new bus, some of which will be recuperated from the state, Bouchard said.
“The application to buy a bus was approved by the state,” Bouchard said. “We will get some money from them, but because we can’t predict exactly how much, we budgeted as though we’re paying the whole cost.”
If JVS buys a new bus, the state money will come in the form of a reimbursement that will go onto the 2011-12 budget. It could be the entire cost of the bus, but Bouchard said it will “probably cover most of it.”
The bus discussed is more than 10 years old and has more than 20,000 miles more than the state recommended maximum for buses. The rest of the JVS bus fleet is also aging, and will need to be replaced in the coming years, Bouchard said.
The board will look at options for replacing the bus, but said at the meeting they will seriously consider moving to a contracted bus service.
More research is needed to determine whether contracting out to a private bus company would save money in the long run, the board said.
“The problem is, if you make the change, you make the change,” Bouchard said.
More than likely, the school would give up their bus fleet to cover part of the cost of a contract, and would be unable to revert to owning their own bus fleet if they were unhappy with the decision.
Several other schools in Lincoln County have bus service contracts, but at least one has experienced “some buyer’s remorse,” Bouchard said.
“You’ve got some decisions to make,” Bouchard told the board. “It’s a hard year and it’s not going to be an easy budget to make.”
“You all picked a great firm to do this,” he said. “Everything looks to be going well, and they’ve done a great job so far.”
The ground breaking is still on schedule for this May, Bouchard said,
In the principal’s report, Gallace said that the school’s NECAP results, the new state student assessment test, were “a little low.”
“We’ve got some work to do,” Gallace said.
To that end, the school has purchased testing preparation materials to help the kids next fall.
“Some of the kids, especially the younger ones, get really scared at the test, so these practice materials should get them used to the format and to the way the questions are set up,” Gallace said.