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School board gets first look at proposed budget cuts

Wichita school board members Monday night received a first look at recommended budget cuts as the district tries to reduce expenses by $25 million next school year and were told plans for job reductions will be outlined April 26.

The $6.7 million in proposed districtwide spending cuts include delaying the purchase of textbooks and technology, cutting back overtime for custodians and adjusting the start times at eight schools.

"All of these will have impact on our buildings and students directly," superintendent John Allison said.

He said he expects to cut a total of $10 million in districtwide expenses, including combining or cutting administrative positions. Those cuts will be discussed April 26.

"I'm not sure if community will understand (the impact) unless they really study it," board members Lynn Rogers said, adding he thought waiting seven years to replace textbooks was too long, let alone the proposed eight-year wait, especially for social studies. "9/11 won't be in the books," he said.

Allison said he will give principals dollar targets for cutting costs at their schools and present proposed school-based reductions in May.

The district is waiting on a state revenue estimate due Friday to determine whether the $25 million reduction in its $621 million budget will be enough.

"If the hole is larger, this number we have to cut will most likely increase" if the Legislature doesn't identify other sources of revenue, Allison said.

Meetings of about 60 community members chosen by the district to provide feedback on its budget plans will start April 20.

Now you know: Proposed cuts for Wichita

These proposed cuts have been announced so far by the district:

* Adjust start times at eight schools, saving $2.5 million in transportation costs.

* Reduce overtime work by custodians by 50 percent, saving $1.5 million.

* Reduce district-supported field trip transportation by 80 percent at the elementary school level, saving $100,000. This means students' families would have to chip in more for trips.

* Districtwide winter shutdown Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, saving $120,000. School buildings have been open three days during that week to allow for school activities and teacher planning.

* Delay purchase of textbooks, saving $1 million.

* Extend the 5-year technology replacement plan to 6 years, saving $500,000.

* Eliminate the remaining four middle school resource officers, saving the district $232,710.

* Reduce meeting, conference and workshop expenses by $365,968. Employees would have to pay more out of their own pockets to attend.

* Reduce mileage reimbursement rate from $0.505 to $0.25, saving $300,000.

* Suspend new appointments to the Grow Your Own Teacher program, saving $50,000. Current participants who receive assistance from the district in earning a degree in education would continue.

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