School superintendents struggle with operating districts with less funding

04/30/2018 04:48 PM

As a result of the biennium budget passed by the General Assembly, school district leaders are left with the challenge of deciding how to best handle the cuts while still providing their students with a solid education.

In addition to a 6.25 percent across the board budget cuts, districts face increased pension costs for their teachers which have led to careful evaluations of everything in their respective districts.

Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent Jay Brewer says that will result in a $45,000 deficit, which is really just the beginning because of rising teacher salaries.

“Within the salary cells schedule, there’s already increases for years of experience and increased education, teachers moving from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s, moving form a Masters to a Rank I, so everybody moves up,” Brewer said. “We know our salary base is going to increase next year, usually for us it’s between $60,000 and $75,000 a year going in to it. So, I know when I’m operating on this year compared to next year, I’m already down $75,000 as far as what I need moving forward.”

Ludlow Independent Schools Superintendent Mike Borchers, whose district is looking at a $75,000 shortfall, says that he and his staff is busy closely looking at everything in the district.

“Anytime we have anybody who is retiring or resigning, we’re re-evaluating that position and seeing if we can be creative with how we cover things moving forward,” Borchers said.

Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton acknowledges that the budget cuts could have been worse, but says that has been a theme for years and it’s a slogan which is getting old.

“We’re kind of tired saying, okay, you didn’t hit us too bad this year, you didn’t hit us too bad last year, because the research says we are probably get less money for public schools, if you throw in inflation, than we did in 2008,” Middleton said.

Another major concern for the superintendents is the ability to attract new teachers to the profession with the change to a hybrid retirement plan for all new hires. Many have said that there is already a teacher shortage in some subject areas and they are fearful that the shortage will grow.

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