Staff cuts on the table

Substitute budget to be cut $50K

PETERBOROUGH — In order to reach a default budget of about $45 million for next year, the ConVal School District will need to make additional staff cuts, according to Superintendent Brendan Minnihan.

Because the district’s budget proposal was rejected by voters earlier this month, about $770,000 in expenses will need to be found. On Friday, Minnihan said that about $216,000 of that amount will come from staff reductions, above and beyond the six positions that the district was already planning to eliminate.

Minnihan declined to provide specifics on how many people would be affected by the cuts. He said any teachers whose jobs are to be eliminated would be notified by April 15. Non-teaching employees would be given notice when the time came to renew contracts for next year or by the end of the school year, he said.

Minnihan said he sought input from staff following the vote.

“We’re trying to have the least impact on students overall,” Minnihan said on Friday. “In general terms, we’ll be making a mixture of cuts to stuff and cuts to people. Our budget had already been based on a reduction in force of six positions. The details of additional reductions are still being finalized.”

Minnihan said the plan to scale back the budget was approved by the School Board during a non-public session at the board’s meeting on Thursday. He said no additional School Board votes on the budget are expected.

Among the other cuts is a reduction of $229,000 for technology, including the elimination of a plan to add iPad computers at the high school and a reduction in the number of Chromebook and iPad computers to be purchased for middle school students. Minnihan said the high school program would have provided eight classroom sets of iPads — 200 computers in total — that could be used in all academic areas as needed.

“I don’t think it will be going away forever,” he said. “It’s going away for now.”

Spending on iPads and Chromebooks for middle schoolers will be cut in half, from $58,000 to $29,000.

The district will eliminate the planned Camp Quest program that was to provide a summer educational experience for students with limited resources. The Peterborough Rotary Club had recommended the program to the School Board during the latter stages of budget preparation last year and had agreed to pay half the cost to send 75 students to a two-week residential camp at Nature’s Classroom in Hancock. Dropping Camp Quest will save $40,000.

The district will also reduce its health insurance costs by $70,000. Minnihan said that’s possible because school officials and representatives of the teacher’s union are planning to reduce the number of health plans being offered to district employees. The reduction had not been confirmed when the initial budget was prepared, he said.

School officials also identified $29,000 in maintenance savings and a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in supplies will save $70,000. The district will provide level funding for library book purchases, which will save $11,000, and is reducing the budget for substitute teachers by $50,000. Minnihan said administrators plan to have fewer staff meetings during the day, so fewer substitutes will be required, and there may also be grant funding available.

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