ELKHART — Elkhart Community Schools is prepared to make $2.5 million in reductions to next year’s budget proposal.
The school board approved the measure at Tuesday’s meeting at the recommendation of Interim Superintendent Mark Mow.
Mow said over the past decade, state support for students at Elkhart schools’ has increased less than two-tenths of a percent per year coupled with the loss of approximately 207 students at the beginning of the school year.
In 2010, he said the depth of the recession the state of Indiana cut approximately $300 million from K-12 education. The promise at that time, he said, was that it would be restored when the economy improved. The impact left ECS in a $3.9 million deficit.
“Unfortunately, those cuts were never restored,” he said.
Heading into 2019, Mow said if the district’s expenditures are maintained at current levels, it will exceed revenue.
“And that’s not a situation that’s sustainable,” he said. “The first step in addressing the financial situation is to reduce expenditures and that’s never easy or popular, but we’ll make every effort to minimize the direct impact on classroom instruction.”
The first recommendation was to cut $1.1 million in administrative costs. By taking this action, the district will reduce the number of administrators from 85 at the end of the 2016-17 school year to 74 at the end of the 2018-19 school year, Mow said.
In reducing positions, he explained that some vacant positions at the end of the school year will not be filled and some administrative positions will be reclassified.
Mow also recommended the district restructure and realign alternative programs at its elementary and middle schools reducing costs for a total of $250,000.
“I can assure the board in doing so we will maintain instructional programs and alternative programs at both those levels,” he said.
Next, he recommended that the district identify preparation periods that could be eliminated for approximately 50 teaching positions. Preparation periods are unassigned periods used for professional work to which a teacher may write lessons, grade papers, analyze student data or other professional responsibilities. The reduction forecast would be $450,000.
In addition to reducing administrative costs, Mow also recommended reducing a variety of other positions through attrition that would be primarily through resignations and retirements. There may be some instances when jobs can be combined, he said. This would save $500,000 in costs.
Rounding out the budget reductions were miscellaneous items in a number of categories totaling $200,000.
To help the district reach the goal, Board member Rodney Dale said the board members would each get a 10 percent reduction as well.
The board agreed and approved the reductions unanimously.