HOWARD — On Wednesday the East Knox school board voted to freeze salaries and wage rates for all employees not subject to a collective bargaining agreement. Teacher salaries were frozen last year and no step increases will be paid. The board requested that employees with individual contracts voluntarily waive such increases for the 2012-13 school year “as a gesture of good will and assistance to the district in grappling with its challenging financial conditions.”
“The financial outlook is dismal,” said Superintendent Matt Caputo. “We are out of options.”
In giving a financial update, Treasurer Jessi Busenburg said revenues are down $235,000 from the same time last year. She said due to cost containment measures expenses are also down by $217,000 for the same time frame. The district is actually spending less now than it did in the 2006-07 school year. The five-year fiscal forecast predicts that revenues for the general operating fund will continue to be relatively flat while expenses are expected to increase. Busenburg said the forecast shows the district will have spent $500,000 more in fiscal year 2012 than it received in revenue and the gap will be about $1 million in fiscal year 2013.
The board approved the forecast, which must be submitted to the state. Caputo said the district is expecting to receive a “Letter of Corrective Action” from the state when it gets the forecast, and said it is most likely the district will be placed in fiscal caution as early as August. That means monthly financial monitoring by the state.
“We will continue to look for ways to save money,” said Caputo, “but we need to increase revenues in some manner.”
Besides the freezing of salaries, a substantial number of other personnel actions were taken by the board. It granted the retirement requests of kindergarten teacher Sherrell Benedict and intervention specialist Sharon Ewalt, both effective June 1. Benedict has served the district 27 years and Ewalt for 12. Bus driver Linda Baughman is also retiring after 27 years of service. The board accepted letters of resignation from social studies teacher Doug Smith, retroactive to April 27, from classroom teacher Eric Woodard, effective at the end of this school year, and from cafeteria worker Carol Winke, effective June 1. Winke has served the district in various capacities for 45 years.
The board formally commended Benedict, Ewalt, Smith and Winke along with Pam Fogle, Denise Campbell and Gwen Dugan for their years of dedication to the East Knox schools and community.