Thursday, October 26, 2000

Lakota may cut staff if levy fails


Plans discussed with board

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — If the Lakota school board decided to eliminate all its elementary school assistant principals, its guidance counselors, nurses and special teachers for math and science, spending still would exceed revenue.

        No one in this growing district of 15,154 pupils is suggesting that, but those areas — and more — would be under scrutiny if voters on Nov. 7 turn down a 6.74-mill combination levy that would provide $8.3 million annually for operations, and money to build two more schools.

        “Our savings account is gone,” Treasurer Alan Hutchinson said. “The hardest part for the board will be deciding how deep the cuts will be.”

        Mr. Hutchinson and Superintendent Kathleen Klink began discussing potential areas to cut with the board during Monday's regular school board meeting. Most of those centered on personnel because 85 percent of the district's budget is devoted to salaries and benefits.

        “There is no one solution that's going to take care of all of this,” Mrs. Klink said. “There is no solution from legislators that's going to rescue Lakota. Everything we do is on the table for intense discussion.”

        In their presentation, Mr. Hutchinson and Mrs. Klink talked about 126 positions, state minimum busing, going back to a six-period day, increasing rental fees for school facilities, and the fees for sports and field trips. If the ballot issue is turned down again, a final plan on cuts would be made by spring and implemented next August.

        “I look at this list and I see a whole domino effect on the educational process,” said board President Sandy Wheatley. “The ripple effect is incredible.”

        The district has made $2 million in cuts this year to reduce deficit spending. Those would continue and more would be added, Mr. Hutchinson said. This year's cuts increased class size so fourth-grade classes now average 30 children, said board member Susan McLaughlin.

        “I don't think our community wants this,” Mrs. McLaughlin said.

        “Do you like the Lakota we have today — or at least last year — and do you want to keep it?” board member Joan Powell said. “It's not something new. It's to keep the quality we're used to.”

        Mrs. Klink said the board also would have to address the need for additional classrooms, but would have little money to rent space or buy portable classrooms.

       



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