More cuts for SWCS
The South-Western City Schools District will cut 49 full-time positions by the end of the school year.
At the April 12 meeting, the board of education unanimously approved a reduction in force resolution, which will eliminate 16 teaching positions and 33 classified jobs.
“We don’t relish doing this,” said board member Cathy Johnson.
Phil Warner, deputy superintendent, said the administration reviewed several factors when considering the 2010/11 staffing plan. The factors include performance audit recommendations, enrollment projections, the district’s five-year forecast and the state budget.
“The state budget is on a collision course to explode,” said Warner.
Warner also said administration made a promise to the community to make the levy tax dollars last until 2013.
According to the reduction in force resolution, the district will have a negative operating balance of $1.6 million at the end of this fiscal year. By the end of the 2013/14 fiscal year, the district would have a deficit of $50 million if changes were not implemented.
Warner said eliminating the classified positions would save $1.2 million each year.
“This is the most difficult part of an administrator’s job,” said Warner. “We have a struggling district and a struggling economy.”
Warner explained the state is facing a deficit upwards of $4 billion. Over 50 percent of the district’s funding comes from the state.
A performance audit, conducted by the Auditor of State, said the district could save $3.2 million a year by making cuts in several areas including maintenance, transportation and food service.
Chad Caldwell, the union representative for the classified employees, said the board is cutting positions from the lowest paid workers in the district, the people who have already had to take on more work with less money.
“Enough is enough,” said Caldwell. “These cuts should not happen.”
Since 2005, classified employees have dropped from 1,000 to 890.
Resident Rob Starrett said cutting these positions would result in little savings.
“Don’t cut teachers and classified staff. Trim administrators,” said Starrett.
Johnson said it would be fiscally irresponsible to keep current staffing levels.
“We don’t like it, but that’s where we’re at.”
After voters approved the November 7.4-mill levy, the board said they would make the funds last and would still need to cut nearly $15 million from the budget over the next four years.
Superintendent Bill Wise said the district has eliminated almost 400 positions in the past three to four years.
“It’s not pleasant, but it’s part of the context of what we are going through,” said Wise.