Waynesboro school board makes cuts

May 03, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Waynesboro Area School Board made its first official cuts from the 2011-12 budget on Tuesday to address a $1.9 million deficit.

The board cut $384,281 from its "Tier Three" options. Those cuts were a gifted teacher, a reading coordinator, an instructional adviser, the co-op program, the health care technology program, one family and consumer sciences teacher, one art position and one high school clerical position.

Also, to save $429,278, the board accepted what were identified as "Tier One" savings. Those included a 10 percent reduction in the athletics budget, requiring students to purchase graduation caps and gowns, closing buildings on Fridays in the summer, purchasing less postage and increasing driver's-education fees.

The board also accepted items from "Tier Two," including elimination of grade-level coordination duties, elimination of an emotional-support counselor position, and the transfer of a building and trades teacher, which will give that program one fewer educator.

Superintendent James Robertson debuted Tuesday a revised budget presentation in which he lumped proposed cuts into three tiers.

Tier One had cuts that did not involve personnel. Tier Two eliminated extra duties and did not replace retirees.

Tier Three "are the major cuts. These are the programs or parts of programs that significantly affect students and personnel," Robertson said, saying that group involves furloughs.

Several items, such as a social worker and a technology facilitator, were delayed for future voting. A $63,000 reduction in the music program was lumped into Tier Three and did not come up for a vote.

Music teacher Eric Griffith cautioned that removing a music teacher from the high school could affect well-respected programs. He said the two teachers issue 514 grades a year.

The district could potentially lose groups like the Tribesmen choir due to time constraints, Griffith said.

"That's a dramatic change I don't think the community wants to see," he said.

Crystal Kump said she's concerned about students like her son who have Individualized Education Programs addressing their special needs. She said a proposal to combine middle school English and reading classes could reduce instruction in those areas by 30 minutes a day.

"My concern is will these kids (with IEPs) be kept in mind when the rearranging or revamping is done at the middle-school level?" Kump asked, saying she also worries about class sizes.

The board chose to eliminate an emotional-support counselor position. Robertson said that person would have an additional certification beyond guidance counselors.

"I'd really like to see how the school is going to cover the emotional-support counselor. Those are fragile kids," board member K. Marilyn Smith said, adding the only way she could vote "yes" was because it didn't cut classes.

Board member Leland Lemley has said he wants a preliminary budget to be passed before Pennsylvania's primary election on May 17.

The board decided to enter into a consortium agreement with other Franklin County, Pa., school districts. Together, they'll look at ways to save costs, including when, as mandated by the state, they pay for students to attend cyber charter schools.

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