By now, everyone is aware of what we are doing to overcome a looming deficit in our finances. The questions are coming out and unfortunately, so are the rumors. Just when I thought that I had heard everything, someone approaches me with something else that they had heard. The bottom line is that our revenue has decreased while our expenses have increased. That is the plain and simple answer to that question.
We are cutting back in all areas of our operation. Over the past two years, we have chosen not to fill some positions when they became vacant. When it was necessary to fill a position, we were able to find some very talented young people to fill those positions, which allowed us to reduce our costs. In other instances, we were also able to piece-meal some of our staff to cover our needs. We, as a total staff, realized that in order to become financially stable, we had to make some sacrifices. We negotiated a one percent cut for all employees for this school year and another one percent cut for next school year. We have reduced our staff by sevent teachers and reduced four of our programs to half-time. We have eliminated reimbursement for mileage; we have eliminated or reduced all extended day contracts; we have eliminated or reduced all non-athletic supplemental contracts; we are looking to cut approximately 10 percent from our athletic budget; and, we have reduced the number days that can be used for severance pay for our retiring staff members.
People are curious as to what might be done should the one percent income tax levy in March not pass. I try to be optimistic that it will pass .It is replacing a three quarter percent that expires at the end of this calendar year. In other words, we are looking to simply add an additional one quarter percent to what we are already collecting. However, we have to be proactive and plan for the possibility of it not passing. There have been some preliminary discussions and some of the items that have come up for future consideration are: reducing or eliminating more programs, elimination of programs already reduced, reduction of bus routes to comply with state mandated requirements, among others. I hesitated discussing these things as they might be perceived as a threat. I know of other districts that give their voters an ultimatum of pass it or else. We certainly do not want to give that impression but we do want to be prepared. I am just hopeful of a positive response to our willingness to work with everyone to reach an agreeable solution.
It is not easy to ask for additional funding, especially in today’s economy and people certainly have their opinions of what could and should be done. When it hits us in the wallet, it gets our attention. I am just hoping that after all of the initial reaction the situation, we can do the right thing for the school. I fell that we have a wonderfully supportive school community and we will be able to put aside some of our differences to come together as one in support of the schools.
In the end, it is important that we all have a common goal and that goal should be for us to maintain the level of education that we have come to expect for our students. It is about the kids and they should receive the highest priority from us.
Dr. David Vail is the superintendent for the Versailles Exempted Village School District. He can be reached at David_Vail@darke.k12.oh.us. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.