Budget cuts get a look from school board
While it awaits a decision from the state legislature, the Baldwin School Board approved several agenda items Monday night to help alleviate some budget issues for the 2010-2011 school year.
The cost-savings items included cutting two days off of the end of the school year in May and two administrative contract changes. The calendar changes will help save money on this year’s budget, but the administration changes will go into affect next year.
On Monday night, the school board approved the retirements of Deb Ehling-Gwin (Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center principal) and Gus Wegner (principal for Marion Springs Elementary School and Vinland Elementary School). Both principals will begin collecting retirement benefits from the state, but are expected to be hired back by the district at a reduced salary.
“This is one way of helping the district with the tough economic times,” Wegner said.
The other piece of budget action will affect the end of the 2009-2010 school year. Supt. Paul Dorathy informed the board that the district has two extra snow days that were planned in the school year, but he doesn’t believe they will be used this year.
Dorathy recommended the district cut two days off of the school year to save money on utilities. The school year was supposed to finish May 25, but now the final day will be May 21, which will be a half day of school. The final full day of classes will be May 20. He said the district is projecting to save between $15,000-$18,000 by closing two days early.
The school board briefly discussed next year’s budget, but the state legislature hasn’t approved its budget for next year. Therefore, Baldwin and all other districts in the state are waiting for that approval.
“We’re still waiting to see what the legislature is going to do so that our board has a better idea of how many dollars we will face in cuts for next year,” Dorathy said. “I think a better picture will occur after Friday of this week, because the state will have a better idea of how much of a deficit they will be facing. Hopefully, they have a decision before the new teacher notification date.”
May 1 has been the day by which school boards must notify teachers their contracts won’t be renewed for the following school year. However, that date may change.
Dorathy said the Kansas Senate and Kansas House of Representatives have approved a bill that would change it from May 1 to May 21. Now the bill is awaiting approval or veto by Gov. Mark Parkinson.
“I’m assuming, if he’s going to sign it, he will sign it here pretty soon,” “Dorathy said. “I believe he probably will sign it, but that’s his prerogative.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “On one side, it gives our board more time to make a decision. On the other side, the employee won’t find out if they have a job or not until three weeks later.”
The other action taken Monday night was to refinance old bonds. A representative from Piper Jaffray and Co. presented the board with facts and figures about the refinancing of the bonds. The school board approved the refinancing 5-0. Board Member Josh Mihesuah abstained and Ruth Barkley was absent.
“We have some old bonds, which have about eight years left on them, and right now interest rates are right to refinance those and save the taxpayers more than $300,000,” Dorathy said. “The board decided to have the savings up front for the next couple of years, because we are having such tough economic times. That will give taxpayers some relief on the mill levy.”