ES school board approves cuts

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

EUREKA SPRINGS -- In an attempt to reduce its expenses next year, the Eureka Springs School Board approved a proposal of stipend and insurance cuts to send to the Personnel Policy Committee (PPC) for its review.

Under the proposal, the school district will no longer bear the full cost of health insurance for its staff. It had been paying $301 per month per staff member. Out of that, the school district is required by the state to pay $131 per month, and it was picking up the remainder. Now the district is asking staff to pay $85 of that cost.

This measure should save the district around $120,000 per year, said Superintendent Wayne Carr.

Stipends for faculty advisors to extracurricular activities were also up for consideration. Carr said at one time the district paid out $60,000 in stipends.

Next year's cuts, if approved, will save the district another $20,000 to $25,000.

Some are coordinator positions, like those with the Arkansas Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, which has an overall chairman and two coordinators for each school.

"We'll ask administrators to take these jobs," Carr said. This year's stipends add up to $5,000. Next year's cuts will reduce that to $900.

Another $5,000 will be taken out for a national board certified speech therapist.

"The state had approved that but never funded it," Carr said, "so we had to pay for it."

Many stipends are untouched. These include Future Business Leaders of America, the K-6 athletic coordinator, golf, junior boys' and girls' basketball, National Honor Society, the parent involvement coordinators, one Renaissance position, softball, Special Olympics, senior boys' and girls' basketball, track and track scorers, yearbook sponsor and volleyball.

Many stipends are reduced, some by about half. These include "B" boys' and girls' basketball, band, choir, cross country, drug testing, EAST coordinator, elementary vocal music, family literacy coordinator, junior class, Perkins coordinator, senior class, seventh boys' and girls' basketball and student council.

Those stipends eliminated altogether include Art Club, athletic director, baseball, foreign language club, math facilitator, media club, mentor coordinator, student court, VICA and Hosa.

These changes will be sent to the PPC for its feedback, Carr said. Once they have submitted their comments and any adjustments, the document will go back to the school board at a regular meeting for a final vote.

Carr said the district has made cuts to this year's budget which total about $75,000, which is merely a "drop in the bucket" of what the state is demanding the district fork over in what it calls "excess" millage revenue.

"We cut a bus route, which had been planned for two years," Carr said. A bus driver had retired, and a substitute had been hired, but the district planned to phase out one of its eight routes based on GPS work done by the EAST Lab.

Carr said a couple substitute teachers the district had been paying full time were no longer needed.

"We also cut some field trips and shifted some materials expenses into other areas of the budget," he said.

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