The Genoa School District has begun a wave of extensive spending cuts, including the loss of one teacher this year and a custodian next year.
And one of the biggest changes families will have to endure is a new charge for all-day, everyday kindergarten beginning in fiscal year 2013. Parents of kindergarteners will have to fork out $100 per month beginning that school year for students to attend all day classes.
“By law, we have to provide half day kindergarten for free,” said Treasurer Bill Nye, adding families will also have the option to enroll their children in the all day program for $100 a month. The option will be explained during the kindergarten registration for new students.
His estimated $51,000 annual savings is “an educated guess,” Nye explained. “You just don’t know how many families will choose half day, or all day. And then there are other things to consider. For instance, if a student is part of the free or reduced lunch program we would be required to offer them the all day for free.”
Board of education members recently approved the cuts in the face of a projected deficit. Nye estimates the district will be losing nearly 20 percent of its funding in the coming year.
The budget slashing amounts to $1.18 million overall; $442,000 savings in fiscal year 2012 and $747,280 in fiscal year 2013.
The teacher losing his or her job has not been determined. That will be based on seniority, Superintendent Dennis Mock explained. And the custodial job will either be cut out completely or reduced from full-time to part-time, he added.
An unstable state economy in Ohio is to blame for the sudden change in the budget, Mock said. With job losses and foreclosures across Northwest Ohio, revenues from property taxes have been dwindling for months. Then came unexpected changes proposed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the pendulum swung budget figures further into the red.
“It goes back to the governor and his State of the Union address. He promised he’s not raising taxes,” Mock said. “The problem is the burden shifts. You force the local communities to pick up the share for the fire departments, libraries, township, schools and trash pickup to make their budgets.”
In addition to cutting some jobs, in fiscal year 2013 the district is reducing the work week hours by one day for the nursing and school psychologists’ service. They’re also eliminating the innovative Chinese program the district has undertaken in cooperation with the University of Toledo. UT, which pays the teacher’s salary, will decide the teacher’s employment future.
Jobs and programs slashing aren’t the only changes. Students and families will find a number of fees going up. For example, pay-to-play jumps for $75 to $100 per sport and student fees for school supplies rises from $70 annually to $100, according to the cost containment outline provided by the school district.
Cost savings are associated with the construction of the new elementary school, Mock said. Things such as transportation, cafeteria and playground services were all re-evaluated. Because of the consolidated campus, the district was able to realize about $75,000 of the savings via the elementary school, he said. Part of that includes a reduction in educational aides.
School officials, however, hope to keep a full busing program in tact for as long as possible. High school busing was eliminated several years ago during a downturn but was later reinstated.
“I want to do everything I can to prevent that,” Mock said. He points to the safety factor on rural roads in bad weather as well as creating a situation that forces kids to pack into one vehicle to travel to and from school. “It’s not a good scenario.”
Still, the school district will not replace one retiring bus driver.
The human factor remained on school board members during the weeks of budget evaluations. They held at least eight meetings sessions and then meet with all the unions the day of the decision-making board meeting the first week of May.
“You can’t help but think how this is going to affect everybody – in and out of the classroom,” the superintendent explained. “Look at bus drivers. There was a time that the bus driver was a supplemental job for people in the area like the farmers. Not today. For some, driving that bus is their only source of income.”
Mock doesn’t want to reduce extra curricular programs either if he can help it. “When you lose those, students start looking at other districts.”
Without any cost containment, Genoa schools would have to pass a 7 or 8-mill levy to make up for its losses – something Mock and others realize is unrealistic in today’s climate.
Still, more changes could put Genoa on track for a ballot issue in 2013, Mock said.” We’ll have to see where we are in a couple of years.”