After announcing a round of spending cuts of about $1.15 million from the district’s operating budget, the Lake school board is preparing to go back before voters with a request for additional tax revenues.
The board has scheduled a workshop meeting for April 9 at 7 p.m. to discuss levy options.
Board members on March 21 formally approved spending cuts that included dropping eight teachers and numerous non-teaching employees as well as closing Walbridge Elementary School, but they also let residents know there would likely be a request for additional operating funds on the ballot this year.
But even if voters approve more millage, the cuts to teaching and non-teaching personnel, the reduction of the kindergarten program, and the closing of the elementary School will remain in place, according to the board and administration.
“These cuts merely allow us to stay afloat until February of 2013 when the additional revenue from the passage of an operating levy this year will start to be collected,” said Tim Krugh, board president, during the meeting. “If this community does not pass an operating levy this year we will only have two options left. Impose a third round of huge cuts effective Jan. 1, 2013 or tell the state that we have done all that we can rationally do as a board of education.”
He noted the board also cut about $1.3 million from the operating budget two years ago.
Board member Eric Hirzel described the district as being in “survival mode.”
Positions affected by the cuts include:
• Eight classroom teachers, one guidance counselor, and one nurse.
• Thirteen assistant coaches.
• Three co-curricular positions.
• Three custodians, one maintenance employee, two bus drivers, three study-hall monitors, and 2 ½ secretaries.
• One central office employee and five positions contracted through the Wood County Educational Service Center.
The all-day, every-day kindergarten program will be reduced to every other day or half-days.
Three of the eight classroom teachers losing their jobs are kindergarten teachers, said Jeff Carpenter, district treasurer. In all, the district had six full-time kindergarten teachers.
Carpenter cited the loss of state and local tax revenues as a driving force in Lake’s deteriorating finances. In addition to an earlier loss of $396,496 from the state, district officials are bracing for the loss of an additional loss of $129,823 on top of a loss this fiscal year of $425,903 from local property taxes.
He is projecting a deficit of $1.17 million by January 2013 without the cuts or additional revenues.