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Posted: 05/14/14

RCS 2014-15 budget may
include staff reductions

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      To keep the district in black ink, the Romeo Community Schools Board of Education is looking at staff reductions for the 2014-15 year.
       A total of $614,480 in reductions is under consideration for the board, which is expected to be discussed at its May 19 meeting.
       Executive Director of Business Services David Massoglia told the board on May 5 that state legislators have yet to release budget numbers, but didn't expect it to vary much from Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal.
       Using Snyder's numbers, Massoglia's budget projections included a less optimistic and more optimistic estimate, the main difference being whether the district loses 100 pupils for a reduction of $770,000 in revenue.
       With the loss, the district can expect expenditures to be over by $2.5 million if nothing is done. This would reduce the fund balance to $283,106 after paying the difference.
       If enrollment remains unaffected, expenditures would be $1.3 million over revenue, and the fund balance would be down to $2 million.
       "In either situation it's not great news, but those are the parameters," he said.
       To combat this, administrators provided a list of 13 recommendations that would save $614,480. He said the hope is to have the changes approved at the May 19 meeting.
       The recommendations call for staff reductions, which Massoglia said were mainly influenced by enrollment decline. At the elementary level, teachers at Amanda Moore Elementary would be cut for a savings of $150,000.
       "We're trying to achieve 30 students or less," per classroom, he said.
       Two high school teachers will be reduced if class enrollment requirements in electives isn't met. For Romeo High School the requirement is 25, while at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center (RETC) it is 19.
       "We get paid a little extra for vocational education so it makes sense to have a slight variation," Massoglia said.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said staffing would be returned if a demand for the classes is shown.
       The recommendations call for cutting one special education teacher, which Massoglia said is in alignment with state-mandated staffing, as well as 4.75 full-time equivalents of special education teacher aides currently filled by substitutes.
       Reading teachers at the middle school level will be moved from the general fund to Title I and At Risk funding, saving the district $45,250.
       Two behavior specialists teachers will be cut since they are no longer required, so their funds can be used for special education teachers to save another $150,000.
       The remaining three hall monitors would be paid through the Professional Education Services Group for a savings of $81,000. Dorine Fuciarelli, a hall monitor at the RETC, asked the board to not make the move.
       "Some of us are supporting our families with our income," she said. "We don't really have a lot more years here, so I'm hoping that you would reconsider."
       Two recommendations that will add expenses are $215,270 in curriculum proposals and moving a 0.5 full-time equivalent social worker to the general fund at $37,500 due to caseloads.
       Other savings include $60,000 by reducing materials and capital outlay funding and using technology bonds instead, $20,000 for energy conservation practices and cutting dues and fees by 15 percent for $10,000.
       The 2014-15 budget includes salary and step increases totaling $400,000 and health benefit increases of 5 percent in 2013-14 and another 9.5 in 2014-15 for a total of $437,000.
       Massoglia said since the district has cut $14.9 million in the past 11 years, further cuts could be unpopular subjects like building closings, outsourcing, cutting programs and negotiations.
       "We're drawing at straws trying to come up with things for you guys to cut, and it's really difficult now," he said.
       He didn't have a great forecast for 2015-16 either, saying the projections won't likely include any foundation allowance increases in 2015-16 due to the state funding increased retirement costs.


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