Sherrard BOARD makes $1.5 million cuts to budget

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

The Sherrard Board of Education made decisions on budget cuts totaling just over $1.5 million at its Feb. 17 board meeting ($1,542,745). Line item cuts include closing Coyne Center School as a student attendance center. This year the district's preschool program is held at Coyne Center.

According to Superintendent Rebecca Rodocker, a state childhood grant is supposed to bring in $350,000 this year and if the pre-school program were to continue at its current level it would have to rely on receiving that grant again. "We already pay $180,000 for the program," she said. The district has so far received nothing from the state. "Part of that expense is in keeping that building open."

She said the district is looking towards receiving less from the state for next year's budget.

The preschool program will be modified from its current structure with around 80 students to serving around 40 for the 2010-2011 school year.

The preschool program will be for special needs students and will be held at Sherrard Grade School.

"We're worried about next fiscal year," she said, citing the belief that the state aid will be reduced 10 percent. "The district receives $1.5 million in categoricals," she said -- such as funding for special education, driver's education, the breakfast and lunch programs, transportation, Title 1 and the preschool program.

She said the district will be making staff cuts mostly through retirements. "We'll have the same programs and same classes as this year," she said. "There will be very minor changes."

As far as Coyne Center, Rodocker said the district will still own the school and will investigate using it for other purposes.

The meat of the meeting came during the superintendent's report where board members looked at next year's budget and made some steep cuts. Stipend and extra day reductions were approved for a projected savings of $107,395. The largest savings came from agreeing to contract out the driving component of driver's education, for a $50,000 savings. Some of the extra duty stipends being eliminated are for transportation secretary ($5,000), band extra duty ($1,455), detention supervisor, after school supervisor ($12,000), reading specialist extra duty (position eliminated saving $6,000) and reducing extra days for high school secretary, junior high secretary, agriculture, social worker, guidance counselors, nurses and the mentor-mentee lead teacher funding (which would become grant funded). The strength training coach stipend would be included as part of the coaching duties.

General line item budget cuts were tallied to budget cuts of $402,150. This would be accomplished by decreasing budget items such as building supplies, department supplies, travel, newsletter printing, curriculum and technology positions being eliminated as well as decreasing technology supplies. Also decreases in principal, superintendent and board travel and supplies, athletic department decreases, and eliminating junior high drug testing.

For more on this story, see the Feb. 24 issue of The Times Record.