Budget cut looms for Medora

MEDORA

Unless enrollment increases, Medora Community School Corp. is going to have to cut about $258,000 from its general fund budget for the 2016-17 school year.

Superintendent Roger Bane provided a budget reduction plan during Monday’s school board meeting after briefly discussing the issue during the March meeting.

Medora’s approved general fund budget for 2016 is $1,874,157. If the plan is enacted, that would cut the corporation’s general fund by 13.8 percent.

Bane projects the average daily membership in September will be 214. He arrived at that number since about 27 seniors will graduate in May and nearly 10 kindergartners are expected in the 2016-17 school year. The state’s second-smallest public school corporation currently has 229 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

In the past few years, Medora has lost about 40 students to neighboring school systems, school board President Joe Campbell said. The corporation receives about $6,000 per student, and that money goes into the general fund, which pays for employees’ salaries and benefits, day-to-day operations and maintenance.

Bane recently notified staff that cuts and changes will have to be made if enrollment doesn’t increase.

“For us to keep things as is, around 260 kids is what we’re looking at,” Bane said.

“If we don’t do anything, we will be closed at the end of next school year. That’s where we’re at right now,” he said. “If we make these cuts, we’re good at the projected number of around 215 for at least eight more years. If we can get it up to around 220, 225 with these cuts, then we’re good indefinitely as long as other costs don’t go up.”

Trustee John Hughes said it seems it has to be done, and Campbell replied that it’s a starting point.

“It’s very difficult on our part to do this, but in order to keep the school open, and the law says you can’t be in deficit spending, you’ve got to do something,” Campbell said. “If the student enrollment increases at the start of the school year, that makes a big difference on this right here.”

At the elementary level, the plan calls for:

Adding sixth grade to the elementary school

Combining kindergarten and first grade into one class

Having aides provide physical education, art, library and music instruction

Bane said sixth grade currently is a part of the junior high; kindergarten and first grade could be combined because those grades had the lowest enrollment numbers; and aides already teach library and music.

At the junior-senior high school, the plan includes:

Negotiating a new extracurricular activities salary schedule and eliminating a majority of the extracurricular offerings

Eliminating 2½ aide positions

Moving from a seven-period class schedule to a six-period schedule or a block schedule

Combining high school and eighth-grade Algebra 1

Eliminating family and consumer science classes

Eliminating technology education classes

Not replacing two teaching positions

Adding additional online class offerings

Negotiating board insurance contribution at current single rate

Bane said the extracurricular salary schedule would be negotiated with the Medora Classroom Teachers Association. All clubs at the school could be eliminated, and the cross-country and track and field programs could be cut unless volunteer coaches could be found.

About $8,000 would be cut from the extracurricular account.

“We’ll probably try to negotiate in keeping all of the volleyball and basketball programs,” Bane said.

The junior-senior high school currently has 6½ aide positions. Reducing down to four aides could save $27,300. Bane said he hopes grant money becomes available to use for professional development so the school could possibly keep five aides.

Going to a six-period day, block scheduling or a combination of both is being explored by Principal Chrystal Street and guidance counselor Melissa Andres.

Bane said family and consumer science and technology education classes could be cut since those aren’t requirements for an academic honors diploma. That would be a savings of $107,300, including salary and benefits, and the two teachers would receive a reduction in force notice.

“If we can find a way to keep them, we will try to keep them,” Bane said. “I really don’t want to lose those two programs, but when those are the only things you have that you don’t really have to offer, those are the things that have to go first.”

Earlier this year, Nicole Shields, a math and special education teacher, left Medora for a job in Colorado, and not filling that position will save the corporation $38,000 in salary and benefits.

Title I money helped the corporation hire Blake Albrecht for this school year to teach history part of the day. But since that funding won’t be available for next school year, his position could be eliminated.

Bane said the online classes would provide an opportunity for students to take classes that the corporation otherwise couldn’t offer. That could be funded with money from the Booker Foundation, which is set up for the corporation to receive money each year for students’ technology needs.

“Right now, though, we already have it set up through some software through another federal grant, so we’re really looking for a year out to even have to use any of that money,” Bane said.

The corporation also is considering negotiating to have all employee insurance contributions go to single plans, which currently are $6,326.90 apiece. That move could save $40,686.

Bane also recently met with a company to discuss property and liability insurance, and it was able to save the corporation 52 percent or $24,000.

The plan Bane outlined and the school board approved puts the estimated total general fund savings at $255,986.

“Of course, all of those are just projections and estimates,” Bane said. “We’ll be working with the teachers and administration and try to finalize everything hopefully before we’re out of here in May.”

By the numbers

Enrollment at Medora Community School Corp.

Year;Enrollment

2011-12;244

2012-13;243

2013-14;254

2014-15;263

2015-16;220

Source: Indiana Department of Education

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.