HOWARD — As revenues continue to decline and expenses increase, the East Knox school district continues to look at ways to contain costs, and the board of education on Wednesday reviewed the cost containment measures which have been implemented and discussed additional measures which may have to be taken.
The most recent budget cuts resulted in the elimination of a middle school study hall teacher, public preschool program, two nurse’s aide positions, two tutor positions and a part-time administrator.
The board has determined that additional reductions in staffing positions will need to be considered for the 2011-12 school year.
“When I looked at the list the Mount Vernon News put out regarding cuts other districts are planning, we either already cut or do not have the positions to cut that others do,” said East Knox Superintendent Matt Caputo.
Caputo said that because of the uncertainty of state funding, additional reductions may need to be made even when the levy passes.
“My hope,” he continued, “is that the community understands that decisions were and will be made based on information with the intention of protecting core teaching and learning outcomes in the classroom while making the district more cost effective and efficient to operate. ... The benefit to the greater good of the district will dictate the course of action for the foreseeable future.”
The board and administration, assisted by consultants and the Knox County Educational Service Center, are conducting feasibility studies to determine the financial and academic impact of the following cost reduction measures. The options are only being looked into at this time, and, depending on the results of the feasibility study may be implemented alone, in combination or not at all.
•Option 1: Reduce, restructure or eliminate career and technical programs such as, family consumer science, business technology, computers, career-based intervention and vocational agriculture.
•Option 2: Increase fee structure, eliminate or reduce extracurricular activities, band and athletics at the high school and middle school. Elementary extracurricular programs and specials have already been eliminated.
•Option 3: Eliminate high school bus routes. In considering this option, Caputo said, the board will need to look at whether it would actually help the budget as students in grades five through eight are riding on buses at the same time.
•Option 4: Close the elementary school. That would be a major project, Caputo said, and would be an extensive undertaking. It would involve, among other things, changing bus routes, changing building schedules and exploring split schedule options.
•Option 5: Restructure remaining services, i.e., food service, custodial/maintenance and secretarial.
•Option 6: Coordinate shared services with the Knox County Educational Service Center and share services with other districts, i.e., special education, food services, transportation coordination and administration.
•Option 7: Start working with the Ohio Department of Education Office of Finance Program Services.
“We want to be prepared and educate the community regarding what is next,” Caputo said. He added that the administration is still trying to get community feedback, and encourages all district residents to complete the survey form found on the district’s website: ekschools.com.
For the 2009-10 school year, the board eliminated the following positions: One administrator, two secretaries, transportation director and one assistant treasurer. There was no increase in base salaries for all staff and purchases were shifted to permanent improvement funds as much as possible. The board also reduced elementary art, physical education, music and library to half time and cut the reading recovery program and computer classes at the elementary. School fees were reinstated for all K-12 students, supply and material budgets were cut in all buildings.
Prior to the start of the 2010-11 school year, the board eliminated elementary and middle school specials (art, physical education, music and library), the middle school intervention period, ninth-grade boys and girls basketball and ninth-grade volleyball. The following staff positions were also eliminated: Middle school tutor, seventh- and eighth-grade football coach, one high school football coach, one assistant baseball and one softball coach, spring sports coordinator, assistant wrestling coach, eight athletic conditioning positions, all department and grade level chair positions, middle school language arts/English teachers and all academic supplemental positions. One bus route was eliminated as were all school-funded field trips, and building use during non-school hours was reduced.