Rockridge works to make more cuts

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Members of the Rockridge Board of Education met in the district #300 high school auditorium to accommodate a larger than usual crowd. The topics on the agenda dealt with making more cuts for the July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 budget.

Superintendent Jack Bambrick worked up a list of possible places the board of education could make some more cuts to the budget. As of now the board and superintendent have agreed to cut next year’s budget by around $800,000, with more needed, according to the superintendent.

On a positive note, Bambrick told the board that the operations and maintenance fund would have a $100,000 increase once an insurance payment was made. The payment will offset repairs done on the sports complex announcer’s booth. “I’ve asked an insurance rep to put the final payment out,” he said.

Bambrick pointed to a more than $300,000 payment owed to the district from the state for December through March payments for transportation.

Finance committee member Dan Neneman reported that the nine month financial report shows that the district is $1.2 million in the hole. “A $400,000 to $500,000 loss is projected for the education fund,” he said. “Yes it’s a bleak picture for our district.”

Superintendent Bambrick brought up a number of possible ways to save money including only providing midday transportation, with parents providing transportation to school for their pre-kindergarten children for the morning session and parent provided transportation back home at the end of the school day for the afternoon session.

The district’s pre-kindergarten program is open to all district children ages three to five. The proposal to only provide transportation for these students during the midday would save the district around $30,000 a year.

“Currently this year we have a self funded pre-kindergarten program, since we have received no money from the state for it, right?" Neneman asked Patrick Helling, Andalusia Elementary principal.

“That’s right,” said Helling.

One board member was concerned about having enough staff to watch after these young students during the midday timeframe when they would be taken either home or to a babysitter, or to school for the afternoon program. The a.m. pre-kindergarten program runs from 8:10. t 10:45 a.m. The afternoon program runs from 12:45 – 3:15 p.m. This year the district has been approved for a $155,000 grant to fund the program. “Next year we’re not guaranteed to have it,” said Helling.

“We need to apply for the grants before July 1,” said Bambrick.

The pre-kindergarten program at Rockridge currently has around 70 children involved.

Other cuts discussed by the board were reduction of the number of hours for maintenance employees, a minimum of eight hours a week of reduction for both maintenance employees and the bus mechanics; eliminating seventh grade athletics, adding a fee for activity participation; adding a $50 activities fee (with fee stopping at three activities, no matter how many the student is involved with); reducing the number of hours for janitorial employees; eliminating Blackberry Exchange service; eliminating one part-time football coach; eliminating some building aides; eliminating school payment for teachers’ outside educational conferences.

Many of these suggestions were not recommended by the superintendent.

The school board will have to call a special meeting later this month to either approve or not approve some more budget cuts.

For more on this story, see the April 19, 2010 issue of The Times Record.