Swanville School Board continues cuts, raises fees to meet budget goals

By TERRY LEHRKE, Staff Writer

As part of reaching its goal to cut $150,000 from the School District’s budget, the Swanville School Board approved cutting holiday pay for part-time paraprofessionals (paras) and cooks, saving $5,750, and inservice days for paras for a savings of $6,536.

This is in addition to cuts proposed in April — a social worker position; and positions in speech, English, math, elementary physical education, hours in social studies and science, and a Title I position and paraprofessionals, for a savings of $103,751.

The district will also discontinue its contribution for the family insurance plan for part-time employees, but will contribute toward a single plan. However, the seven employees affected will have the option to carry and pay for the family plan on their own. This will save the district approximately $26,949.

Charles Reichert, who runs the Alternative Learning Center (ALC), will retire this year. To save $19,265, the Board will not fill that position.

Another consideration, which was not approved, was to ask part-time employees laid off in the summer to pay their insurance premiums through COBRA, saving the district having to pay part of the premiums.

“Making staff take COBRA over the summer and not paying for family insurance would be too much,” said Supt. Gene Harthan.

The superintendent said the Board worked to make cuts that affected the classroom the least.

Health insurance is offered to employees who work 20 hours per week or more.

Proposed cuts not acted on included distributing the school newsletters four times per year instead of nine ($560 savings); cutting refreshments for board meetings ($150) and inservices ($400) and another para position ($12,000 – $15,000).

The Board also approved increases in athletic fees and ticket prices for the 2012-2013 year.

Athletic fees were raised $10 for grades 9 – 12 (now $40), and $5 for grades 7 – 8 (now $25).

“I’m really torn with raising athletic fees,” said Board Member Chris Kircher. “Ten dollars is not a lot, it may raise some revenue, but it may deter kids, too.”

Board Member Jay Loven, who is also the head football coach, said he often tells athletes if they have a problem with the fees, they should come to him, so it can be worked out.

“Kids don’t come up and say, ‘I can’t play because I don’t have the money,’” said Loven.

Ticket prices for athletic events will be $6 for adults and $4 for students, an increase of $1, but will remain $3 for senior citizens.

Tickets for fine arts activities such as plays and concerts will remain at $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.

The Board also approved charging $20 per couple to attend prom and also approved charging admission to next year’s prom. It will cost adults $5 and students and seniors $3 to watch the grand march.