PCSD seeks employee cuts to make up for $5 million shortfall | ParkRecord.com

PCSD seeks employee cuts to make up for $5 million shortfall

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

The Park City School Board needs to shave $5 million from its budget by the 2012-2013 school year. Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy presented a list of recommended cuts to the school board this week, which add up to about $4.3 million, not including an early retirement incentive plan that could make up the additional 700K in reductions to the $5 million goal.

According to Park City School Board President Moe Hickey, some of the superintendent’s recommendations include: establishing a 23-to-1 student-teacher ratio, modifying employees’ health insurance policy and an early retirement program that a limited number of PCSD employees could explore. Several positions at the elementary and secondary level may also be eliminated.

"We have looked at some positions that don’t require licensed employees to become para-professional positions," Hickey said. "In some cases there are positions we’ve looked at and we’re saying ‘are they necessary positions?’"

The bottom line, according to Timothy, is that board members don’t want to make unnecessary cuts. The school board and district administration will meet on March 13 to solidify the plan.

"The board has set the depth of the cut and they have asked me to come back to them where I’m recommending that we make those cuts," he said. "After March 13, we’ll start moving forward and notifying people on how we finalize that list."

Bumping class sizes up to a 23 to 1 student-teacher ratio would save the school district about $1.7 million, according to Timothy, who said this would have the biggest impact on the schools.

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"That would be eight positions at the high school, 5.5 at Treasure and five at Ecker. The secondary schools are impacted the most because of that eight-period block schedule and double-prep schedule," he said, adding that there would be reductions at three of the four elementary schools.

"Converting some of the licensed positions to para-professional positions would be the salary and benefits difference between a licensed employee verses a para-professional," he said. Eliminating the recommended positions would equal close to $600,000. This would include terminating licensed media specialists at the elementary level and eliminating media para-professionals at the secondary level.

Timothy’s calculations are based on average salaries, so the total savings would depend on who is laid off. The reduction in force would also include a 15 percent reduction in para professional hours at the elementary and secondary levels. This would save the school district about $332,500. A .67 percent reduction in hours for full-time instructional coaches positions along with reducing the number of elementary school councilors from 4.5 to two positions would save the school district about $269,450. Instructional coaches help licensed teachers improve their instructional skills in the classroom, Timothy said.

"There are very few elementary schools in the state that have been able to afford a full-time counselor. We have been very fortunate. All these people do a great job, so it’s painful to make these cuts," he said.

New language added to the Reduction in Force policy earlier this year abolished a rule that enabled teachers with seniority to keep their positions during a reduction in force.

"It’s no longer based on seniority, it’s based on performance evaluations and the needs at the school," Timothy said. "The role of the administrators and principals is to make these decisions based on the evaluations. We have been talking about this for four years and making sure these evaluations are in place."

Other recommendations include freezes in annual "step" increases on the teachers’ salary schedule. Timothy said he recommends that teachers still advance in lane, which raises the teacher’s salary if they complete additional education such as a master’s degree.

"You wouldn’t see any salary increase based on experience, but I would recommend an increase in lane because that person paid tuition, pulling money out of their pocket and they put the time in and they received the advanced degree."

The Budget Advisory Committee made insurance recommendations that would trim about $1.3 million by only insuring the PCSD employee and not additional family members, Timothy said, adding that they are waiting for recommendations from the Insurance Advisory Committee.

"We’ve been very fortunate to be a non-contributory system, so all they have to pay is a co-pay," he said. "I’m anticipating that employees will have to pay at least a little for their premium cost."

Timothy has also recommended two fulltime positions be terminated at the administrative level, a cost savings of about $268K, along with a $104K savings by reducing 1.65 fulltime positions at the District Office and a policy calling for future hires to be kept under a reduced number of contract days.

He said the main reason for the cuts is because the fund balance is below what the state guidelines recommend and the school district no longer has the ability to transfer money from its capital fund. The school board also has the option of raising property taxes, and will make that decision after considering the recommended cuts, he said.

"Once the board sees the depth of the cuts and the impact it will have on each of our schools, if they feel those cuts are too drastic then it would be up to their discretion to raise taxes," Timothy said.

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