USD 338 school board sees another list of cuts unveiled
by Clarke Davis
With schools being told there were further cuts in state funds coming to local school districts, the Valley Falls school board got a taste of what the next year might bring in a special meeting held Monday night.
Superintendent Loren Feldkamp said the district could face a $38,000 cut before July 1 and another $200,000 in the next budget starting July 1.
The Valley Falls district faces two problems: Fewer state dollars and a declining enrollment.
Again, like several times the past couple of years, the board was given a long list of possible cuts that add up to over $180,000 if needed.
“I’ve given the worst case scenario and maybe it won’t be this bad,” Feldkamp said.
He will know at the Feb. 14 meeting a pretty good estimate on how this year will end and be able to give a better projection on how much money might be able to carry over to help on next year’s deficit.
The superintendent said next year’s numbers will be very close to the 1991-92 budget numbers the school operated on 20 years ago.
He also said he is of the opinion that there is a push on the state level to force more of the support for education onto the local school boards and taxpayers.
High school Principal Jacques Molleker presented the board with enrollment projections showing that in a short time the student body will number less than 100 in the high school.
There are now 148 students in grades 9 through 12 and that stays pretty constant until the 2014-15 school year when classes numbering from 35 to 43 are graduated and being replaced by classes with fewer than 25 and ultimately drop below 20.
The result will be fewer sections to teach in the high school and ultimately fewer teachers. County school superintendents and principals are talking now about sharing teachers and aligning their schedules to accommodate it.
In the grade school, Principal Susan Grey is looking at arranging classes in grades kingergarten through 6th to be taught by 11 teachers instead of 13.
These reductions will come through retirements or teachers leaving but if it comes about, three teachers will handle kindergarten and first grade (49 students); one teacher for second grade (19 students); two teachers for both the third and fourth grades (24 and 25 students respectively); and three teachers for fifth and sixth grades (51 students).
On the superintendent’s list of potential cuts are two teaching positions, a district aide, reduce the library budget, eliminate Parents As Teachers, eliminate the Outcomes Club, eliminate one high school and one middle school cheerleaders sponsor, suspend forensics and scholars bowl for one year, and drop some class sponsors.
Cutting into athletics, the list includes reducing the athletic budget by $10,000, drop cross country, eliminate middle school track, eliminate the summer weight program, and reduce the number of sub-varsity games.
The board held an executive session and then voted on extending administrators’ contracts. The votes on Molleker and Grey were 6-0 with Bobbie Kearney absent. The vote on Feldkamp was 4-2 with Laverne Clark and Daryl Sales opposed.
The principals are on one-year contracts and Feldkamp has a two-year contract.
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