ELIDA — Elida schools will cut $465,569 from its budget next year by restructuring two central office positions, replacing retiring staff with people who will cost less and making pupils pay more for participating in extracurricular activities.
The school board approved the reduction package Tuesday, with members Brian Anders and Brad Settlage voting against it. The two previously voted against putting a levy on the May ballot. Both said they know cuts are needed but said they proposed things that were not considered.
“I realize we have to make cuts, but some of the things put on the table were not even considered,” said Anders, who also opposes increasing pay-to-participate fees.
Settlage added, “I am in favor of the cuts. It is what we have to do. But when they bundle this stuff together like this (in one vote), it is not really fair.”
Voters rejected a levy last November, forcing reductions for next school year. Diglia said the cuts approved Tuesday will remain regardless of the levy outcome. The only thing that could possibly change is reducing the pay-to participate fee some. It would not go back to where it is now, which is $90 for the high school and $75 for the middle school. The costs will jump to $200 and $125 next year. It covers as many activities as pupils want to take part in.
“I think if you really take a look at the quality of services that coaches and advisers provide, the amount of time they spend with the kids, the quality of time, the fact that we are providing transportation and supervision and a quality product, that $200 really isn’t that much,” Superintendent Don Diglia said.
The district has lost $2.3 million in revenue while cutting $2.8 million from its budget over the last five years. Elida faces a $1.3 million deficit in fiscal year 2015. That grows to $4.7 million the following year.
The district plans to save just over $84,000 by restructuring two positions in the central office. The district will eliminate the director of business position and develop a safety and facilities manager position. Mark Miller will remain to take the new position.
Miller will handle anything that has to do with the buildings, Diglia said, and oversee the district’s safety program, which includes handling inspections, safety meetings and required data reporting. Diglia said Miller has overseen nine projects over the past 10 years, including raising 85 percent of the money needed for the $900,000 fieldhouse renovation and other projects.
Transportation, technology and food service, which had previously reported to Miller, will now report to Diglia. Settlage said he believed the business director position could be completely eliminated. He also believed the director of transportation position could be part time.
Administrative Assistant Jo Ellen Miller will continue some of her district communication duties but also become EMIS coordinator, which handles data entry. The person currently doing the work will replace a retiring secretary in another building.
The district has five elementary and three high school teachers retiring at the end of the school year. There are also classified employees retiring. The district can replace the veteran teachers, Diglia said, with newer teachers who will fall lower on the pay scale.
The district’ special education officer will also retire this year but will be rehired. Diglia said the district would spend the same money rehiring her as hiring someone else.
“The difference is we have someone very good at what she is doing,” he said.
Both Anders and Settlage oppose retire-rehire. Settlage believes once someone has enough time in to retire, he or she should.
“I just think there are a lot of people waiting for their shot,” he said.
The district will save additional money by moving some costs to the separate cafeteria fund. At one time, the district had to assist the fund, but it has since turned around and can afford to take on costs such as utilities. It will save about $25,000.
Building budgets will be reduced by $50,000. Diglia said that includes reducing the amount of paper used and cutting back on supplies and equipment.
The district will also save over $73,000 from changes in the Allen County Health Insurance Consortium, to which all county districts belong. Some employees will move to different plans. The consortium added a spousal clause, meaning that if a spouse can get insurance elsewhere, he or she must do so.
The district will add $29,600 to its budget by hiring a half-time math teacher. Starting next year, pupils must have four units of math instead of three to graduate. The half-time teacher position is needed to compensate, Diglia said.
Officials believed it would need to cut an additional $700,000 if the levy fails in May and had planned to do a portion by eliminating all-day, everyday kindergarten. Preliminary figures from Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal show Elida getting an additional $774,000 in the first year of the budget and nothing additional the second year. That would help, Diglia said, but he isn’t convinced the district will get that much by the time the budget becomes law in June.
“There are some big question marks here when you have almost 400 of 600 districts receiving 0 percent increases,” he said. “Best case scenario, we get an additional $774,00 and that carries us through next year. But we are looking for a plan for financial stability that will take us out five or six years. We don’t want to go from year to year.”
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