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BOE on 2012-13 Budget: Expect Staff Cuts

Board President Liz Dion said that the district will need to reduce staff to stay under the two percent cap.

School board officials unveiled its preliminary 2012-13 budget at Tuesday's board meeting and revealed a grim reality: under the new two percent tax cap, the district will have no choice but to cut staff.

According to a 2012-13 budget presentation by Assistant Superintendent Robert Bartells, the new two percent tax cap allows the district to increase its budget by only $1.5 million over the current fiscal plan. The proposed budget for 2012-13, however, has an increase of $3.1 million — or about 3.2 percent. The majority of increases are in items the district has little control over like salaries, health insurance and retirement contributions, social security costs and transportation, he said.

The largest increase in the 2012-13 budget, Bartells said, is in salaries — up $1.85 million — and noted that salary increases alone exceeds the projected tax levy limit. He explained that the district would need a supermajority — a 60 percent affirmative vote — from residents to pass the proposed budget containing a 3.2 percent increase.

If the district wants to stay under the tax cap — and by all accounts it does — it would need to cut $1.4 million out of the 2012-13 budget, Bartells said. That fiscal plan would only need 50 percent of voters to approve it. Under the new tax cap law, if the budget is defeated twice, the district must adopt a contingency budget with a zero percent increase.

Finding $1.4 million to cut, however, is the problem, Bartells said. The district will use a portion of its reserve to deflect its employee retirement system contributions, and will roll all programs forward. "Every year we will have this issue of staying in the tax levy limit," he said.

Board President Liz Dion was clear that the district will not cut $1.4 million out of the budget by trimming small items like supplies. "We're not finding $1.4 million going line by line," she said. "We're looking at everyone and everything. Staffing cuts are coming."

Superintendent Dr. William Johnson said that with staff cuts comes the discussion of increasing class sizes throughout the district. He said he wants to retain the integrity of the school district, but look at the way services and programs are put together. "The only way to get there (under the two percent cap) is by reducing staff and personnel in the school district."

Dion noted that district officials will look at every class of employee. "Pain will be felt by all," she said.

When asked if the district could reopen the teachers contract and renegotiate its terms, Johnson said the only way that could happen is if the teacher's union agreed to reopen contract discussions.

School administrators in the district's seven schools submitted less than a zero percent increase in their individual 2012-13 budgets, and areas other than salaries that increased were in physical education (up nearly $30,000) and curriculum and instruction (up nearly $60,000).

District Athletic Director Carol Roseto said the $30,000 increase is due to the addition of a boys swim team at the high school. Chris Pelletieri, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said the $60,000 increase are costs associated with unfunded mandates, state-required new testing models and the Annual Professional Performance Review training, which is also state required.

The next 2012-13 budget meeting is on Feb. 7 at South Side High School.


opinion-ated February 03, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I have a long list of teachers they can cut.
John February 03, 2012 at 01:13 AM
LOL 60% in this economy! Maybe Johnson and Bartells should donate there pay for the years of inaction in union backrubs. This is your shame Dr Johnson and we all have to live with it. I will do everything in my power to vote down any supermajority.What tricks will you try this year on voting day? Free giveaways, pony rides, or some mandatory thing to get the parents there. The old scare tactics are here again. WE WILL DEFEAT YOU THIS YEAR
opinion-ated February 04, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Kids taught in trailers, Not enough room for kids to eat in lunch room( if they even have room in their IB crammed schedule for a lunch period) , poor security....especially at HS level, with open campus where kids can come and go as they please no matter what grade level, Staff who spend more time on line during class or acting more like teenagers than modeling behavior appropriate for their roles as teachers. Thats what you get for your taxes.
Interested Bystander February 05, 2012 at 09:30 PM
John - no need to get excited. Staffing cuts are being discussed because BOE knows they have no chance of getting 60% of the vote. Just look at the last 3-4 years of School budget votes. No where near 60% approval and 2 or 3 years ago the vote to defeat was very close. Of course, had the budget been defeated we just go to austerity where we know that the only thing that gets cut is music, art and sports - anything to push the buttons of the parents. Now, however, with the cap - they have no choice but to cut jobs. As Al Capone said about robbing banks - THAT'S where the money is. You cut jobs, you cut salary, health benefits, dental insurance, pension, workers comp, FICA, medicare, disability insurance, dues etc. KEEP the GREAT teachers and torpedo the bodies. We ALL know every organization has bodies that can be cut. That's the reality or every organization. Not every single person who is on the school payroll is so vital that without their services our educational excellence will collapse. Sharpen the pencils, make the cuts, and those who remain get to buckle down with their nose to the grindstone. Win win for everybody with a lean and mean school district.
Frank February 07, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Quick question: Are there any triggers in the existing employment contracts that may allow the district to declare Force majeure and re-negoitate benefits? If the district does not have the money to pay the generous benefit packages due to legal mandate from the State (i.e. 2% cap), does that qualify as force majeure? Time to test how ironclad these contracts really are.


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