What is the impact if we don’t pass a levy?

When the discussion of levy needs started, one of my first questions was:  what happens if we don’t pass a levy?  What does that mean to the school district?

While cuts have been used in the past as a threat to coerce people to vote for a levy, in this case, the information is just being used as a planning tool.  These are not cuts that will absolutely take place if the levy fails, and they are not meant as threats:  they are just meant as information to help us all understand the magnitude of what our budget must absorb if we must balance the budget with no levy.

Our administrative cost is already low.  We spend $912 on administration per student, versus the state average of $1,300.  We are also well below our neighbors.  It is hard to find reductions in administration with only one administrator in each elementary (and at Pattison, our largest elementary, that means 672 students/1 principal), and not many in the junior high or high school.  For instance, at the high school, we have a ratio of 434 students/administrator, and 40:1 for administrators/staff members; at the junior high, the ratio if 338 students/administrator, and one of those administrators is also a half-time assistant athletic director.

With $3.9 million in reductions needed, no one area can – nor should – absorb the entire amount.  The administration looked at each area and determined what amount could be cut, and what effect that would have.  If the levy fails, cuts would likely look somewhat similar to the following:

Instruction:

  • $926,000:  Eliminate all Specials teachers (art, music, gym) at the elementary level; this is 17 teachers.  Because teachers would still require their planning periods, and there would be no other teachers to work with the students during that time (currently, planning period is when students are with the Specials teachers), school would start later.  This would require a change in transportation schedules.  In addition, since these areas must be taught by law, classroom teachers would take 45 minutes out of their day to teach Specials, reducing the amount of core curriculum our students are receiving.
  • $1.9 million:  Eliminate one teacher from every grade, which would increase class sizes from between 28 to 59 students.  If we keep class sizes at no larger than 40, this would save $1.2 million.  We would also lose the teaming concept at the 7-9 grades, including the Ninth Grade Community, which has been extremely beneficial in helping students transition to high school, leading to increased graduation rates and higher performance.  We would have 6 classes per day at the high school, which would decrease elective options, especially AP classes.

Curriculum/Support:  These areas would all be delayed expenses:  we would still need to spend the money at some point, and in the meantime we are delaying our curriculum implementation and affecting student performance.

  • $660,000:  Delay implementation of English/Language Arts curriculum, which means we would have no additional reading materials at any grade level, no additional fiction to meet the shifts in curriculum requirements, and we would have a gap in Grade 12 versus the Common Core requirements
  • $800,000:  Delay implementation of new technology programs, which is required for new Common Core standards and will delay the ability to implement the “Bring Your Own Device” program
  • $80,000:  Delay World Language revisions, which will not meet the change in focus required by law and will mean using outdated texts
  • $40,000:  delay Physical Education/Health curriculum revisions, which will prevent us from meeting newly-mandated PE assessments.  Health curriculum is from 2003 and is out of date

Administration/Operations:

  • $225,000:  Change transportation from a 3-tier system to a 4-tier, which will require the JH & HS to start appr. 10 minutes earlier, and the latest elementaries to finish at 4:35 pm.
  • $190k:  Implement a 1-mile no transportation zone (i.e., you only receive busing if you’re outside a 1-mile radius from your school)
  • $330k:  Implement a 2-mile no transportation zone
  • $1.1 million:  No busing for 10-12 grades, 2-mile no transportation zone
  • $1.3 million:  Implement state minimum transportation (2-mile no transportation zone, no HS busing)
  • $450,000:  Reduce custodians further, so some schools will be cleaned every other day.

Extracurriculars:  We did not reduce fees when we passed the last levy in 2008.  We currently charge $175/sport with a family cap of $500.  The Enquirer recently ran an article outlining fees charged for extracurricular participation by various schools.  We are high compared to most districts.  We can look at increasing the pay-to-play amount, but our current participation rates are good, and this is a small portion of the budget.  We also believe it’s important to have students participating in extracurriculars, since this teaches many skills that aren’t learned in the classroom, as well as often encourages students to do better in school in order to participate.  Below are the options we would have for reducing extracurriculars outside of increasing fees:

  • $70,000:  Cut JH sports; however, this will also affect HS sports, since students begin to learn & develop in JH, which serves as a feeder for HS teams.
  • Unknown, but not that much:  Reduce coaches, but there are a lot of safety issues today, and we must be cautious to provide an appropriate level of coach support for each sport.

Once again, please remember these are NOT the cuts that will absolutely be made if we fail a levy; instead, this list is designed to provide perspective on how much we can cut from various areas, and what we would need to do to reach $4 million in cuts.  Clearly, there is no one area the cuts can come from; a variety of areas will be affected if we must find $4 million to reduce in the budget.

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