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Williamsburg school: Surviving state cuts

By ANDREA FURLONG

Williamsburg School District’s solution to overcoming an approximately $510,000 cut in state financing includes furloughs and a freeze on textbook purchases for the year, among other methods.

The district is making up for the state cut by holding back on some expenses while substituting approximately 66 percent of the lost state aid with federal stimulus dollars and some of the district’s unspent spending authority.

“We’re trying to save approximately one third of (the $510,000) through a reduction in spending. . . We hope to receive approximately one third from the federal stimulus money and we anticipate a reduction of our carryover by one third. Since the 09-10 contracts are in place, the district may not be able reduce spending by one third. We estimate the loss to our carryover,” Superintendent Carol Montz said.

REDUCING EXPENSES

All administrators, secretaries, nurses and janitors will take two to four days off, unpaid, for the school year. Dr. Montz said administrators will schedule furloughs so that another principal will be available during their absence. Furloughed administrators will be available by phone in case of emergency.

The hours of some other staff members have been reduced. All of the district’s approximately 30 teacher associates have agreed to have their contracts modified to subtract 15 minutes from their work day.

Both the furloughs and hour reductions were implemented approximately eight weeks ago. Montz said together they will save the district approximately $38,000.

The district is also cutting 10 percent of teacher quality money, an effort that will save approximately $58,000. The money, received from the state every year, goes toward increasing teachers’ salaries. Teachers will see a reduction of $320 to $680 this year, depending on their step on the salary schedule, according to Williamsburg School Board Secretary Kay McMann. 

The district will also cut back on smaller expenses throughout the year, Montz noted.

“We’re not purchasing any new textbooks this year. We’re reducing technology expenses, reducing any travel expenses we can and we may look at cutting back on field trips in the spring,” she said.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Montz noted last fiscal year, the district was conservative with its spending authority in anticipation of the 10 percent cut in state aid. Through some staff reductions, attrition, buying used buses instead of new and delaying textbook and technology purchases, the district improved the carryover in its spending authority by about 25 percent or $250,000 to $300,000. Montz said the district anticipates spending the majority of that amount to make up for the lost state revenue this year. The district also plans to use all $161,000 of federal stimulus money it will receive this year to make up for the lost revenue.

Montz noted if the state continues to reduce or limit aid to the district, the carryover of its unspent spending authority could be at zero by the end of fiscal year 2013.

“If the state doesn’t fully fund the districts or eliminates the 2 to 4 percent increase in funding per student on an annual basis, we estimate that our carryover will be gone in three years,” she said.

EARLY RETIREMENT PLAN

In an effort to reduce next year’s expenses, the district is offering an early retirement plan this year. The plan, which is not available every year, will allow retiring teachers to leave with single health insurance coverage until they are eligible to receive Medicare.

The plan is only available to teachers age 57 and older who have worked at least 15 consecutive years in the district. About nine teachers are eligible to receive early retirement, but the board has limited enrollment to five. Teachers will be approved on a first come, first serve basis. Applications will be taken until Feb. 1, 2010.

McMann estimated the district may spend about $31,200 per year in single insurance, with five early retirements, until retirees became eligible for Medicare.

Early retirements are paid out of the district’s management fund, which levied about $225,000 last year.

Montz said it is too early to tell if continued reductions in state aid could push the district to consider layoffs.

“We just don’t know if there’ll be any layoffs at this time, but the positions that would come first would be the ones that don’t provide direct services to the students, like non-teachers,” she said.

The district will also cut back on smaller expenses throughout the year, Montz noted.

“We’re not purchasing any new textbooks this year. We’re reducing technology expenses, reducing any travel expenses we can and we may look at cutting back on field trips in the spring,” she said.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Montz noted last fiscal year, the district was conservative with its spending authority in anticipation of the 10 percent cut in state aid. Through some staff reductions, attrition, buying used buses instead of new and delaying textbook and technology purchases, the district improved the carryover in its spending authority by about 25 percent or $250,000 to $300,000. Montz said the district anticipates spending the majority of that amount to make up for the lost state revenue this year. The district also plans to use all $161,000 of federal stimulus money it will receive this year to make up for the lost revenue.

Montz noted if the state continues to reduce or limit aid to the district, the carryover of its unspent spending authority could be at zero by the end of fiscal year 2013.

“If the state doesn’t fully fund the districts or eliminates the 2 to 4 percent increase in funding per student on an annual basis, we estimate that our carryover will be gone in three years,” she said.

UPDATED December 16, 2009 11:05 AM

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