School district tries to save jobs | ParkRecord.com

School district tries to save jobs

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

The Park City School District has to cut $5 million dollars from its budget in order to balance it for next school year. At first, the board announced it might be necessary to eliminate 22 employee positions. After weeks of re-evaluating the system, and listening to the community and individual school administrators, PCSD Superintendent Ray Timothy made his final recommendations to the school board on Tuesday that meet the $5 million goal but with fewer employee cuts.

During Tuesday’s open session, PCSD Board President Moe Hickey, said this will be an ongoing process from now until May, when they hope to approve a budget for the 2012-2013 school year.

Over-spending for two years led to a $5 million shortfall, which the school district has to replenish in order to balance the budget. According to retired school board member Vern Christensen, the school district will meet their goal is by making fulltime employee cuts, and he said this still won’t replenish the reserve fund, just defer a deficit. In order to start building the fund back up from where it was at its highest in 2010 at $10.6 million, a tax increase may also be in order.

"They have to be sustainable and have to have a budget that is sustainable," Christensen said. "There is no way they can balance the budget without increasing taxes, and what they put on the table does not balance the budget."

A district office audit will hopefully steer people away from pointing fingers at the staff, according to Timothy. He suggested cutting more than six fulltime positions, including two administrative employees, which would equal more than half a million dollars.

"If they go through the audit and they say that additional positions need to be cut then we’ll do that," Timothy said. "We will be informed to be able to make those changes for next school year and in time to impact next year’s staffing."

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A 30 percent budget reduction in areas such as field trips, school-wide supplies, periodicals, AV materials, software and Shared Leadership Funds, which is group of committee members established at each school that help administration develop the school’s vision, will save $220K, Timothy said, adding that his will allow the school district to keep a few more para-professional positions and librarians at the elementary level from his original recommendations.

Still, Timothy said a 30 percent reduction in para-professional hours at the elementary level will equal about $477K, along with shaving about $192K in media professionals at the secondary level, is needed. However, PCSD Director of Curriculum Lori Gardner might have saved the day for a few employees. According to Timothy, each year Gardner is allotted a sum of money for professional development. Gardner has been able to save some of that money over the years, which now equals $350,000, a one-time profit to the school district.

Tania Knauer, who is in the running for a school board seat, there are a lot of unknowns in the list of recommendations and she hopes to see more information presented at the Town Hall meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 3 at the Park City High School. Knauer said one of the question marks is the early retirement incentive plan.

"They haven’t even done an analysis to see if it’s going to save them money. I think it’s ridiculous to even have that one there," she said. "No one seems to have an answer as to what the financial impact of that would be. I do know that we lost some great teachers when we did this a few years ago. If anything we should be looking at the low impact teachers."

Other savings unknowns include freezing licensed employee salaries and a salary freeze for any additional staff hired, which cannot be determined until after the number of teachers is set for the upcoming year.

Timothy’s recommendations that remain the same include readjusting class sizes so they meet the 23-to-1 student-teacher ratio, which would save the school district $1.7 million.

"The administrators at the second level are looking at registration and this would depend on the classes the students sign up for," Timothy said, adding that they will be keeping the core classes in place and re-evaluating some of the smaller classes.

A health insurance committee is also putting together three options for the board to consider and approve, according to Timothy, who said their goal is to reach $1.3 million in health insurance cost savings.

For more information regarding the Superintendent’s recommendations visit the school district website at http://www.pcschool.us . A Town Hall meeting is scheduled for April 3, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at PCHS. The meeting is open to the public.