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SWCS treasurer lays out cuts and costs
Leaders in the South-Western City School District will move forward with an August levy attempt. They will also move forward with $8 million in budget cuts for the next school year.
Voters will see a four-year 8.3-mill operating levy on the Aug. 4 ballot – the same issue defeated in May. If passed, the funds would generate approximately $21 million for the district and keep current educational services. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $22 per month or $264 a year. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $44 a month or $528 a year.
The district plans to implement cuts that include eliminating athletics and extracurricular activities, closing Harrisburg Elementary and the Kingston School, cutting over 60 positions, closing facilities after the school day and eliminating high school transportation.
According to Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise, the district could restore some of the cuts if voters pass the August levy.
In an interview with the Messenger, Treasurer Hugh Garside laid out the savings by implementing the cuts. He explained the district receives 55 percent of its funding from the state of Ohio, which is about $111 million.
Athletics and extracurricular activities
Garside said by cutting extracurricular activities, the district would save $2.5 million a year. Most of the cost comes from coaching staff salaries and transportation.
The district will eliminate 66 positions, saving approximately $2.4 million. Garside said they will cut 30 classified positions (cooks, custodians and secretaries), 29 certified positions (teachers) and seven administrators.
Those who have lost their job have already been notified by the district.
Harrisburg and Kingston
According to the treasurer, it costs the district $730,000 a year to operate Harrisburg Elementary School. The cost includes salaries for staff, electricity and supplies.
It costs the district about $1 million to operate the Kingston School, which serves students with special needs.
Harrisburg students would be moved to Darbydale Elementary School. This puts 378 students in Darbydale. The modular unit at Harrisburg would be transferred to Darbydale.
Six Kingston units have been assigned to other school buildings. Parents and students should receive new assignment notifications by the end of the month.
Garside explained the district is not reaping total savings from closing the two buildings, as staff will be relocated to other sites.
Schools will be open one hour before classes begin and one hour after classes end. There will be no evening activities in the buildings. The Career Academy is an exception as it offers adult education, which generates revenue for the district.
This would save the district $350,000, mostly in utilities. As of June 6, the buildings will be closed to the community.
Garside explained that eliminating high school busing would account for about half of the funding cuts.
Nearly 6,200 students will not receive transportation services for the 2009/10 school year. The elimination of high school busing and expanded walk zones will cut eight bus driver positions.
Students attending the Career Academy will still be transported to the school from their home school. Students and parents should be notified if they will not receive transportation by the end of June.
Garside said as of 2010, the district faces a $5 million deficit. In 2011, it faces a $20 million deficit. He explained more cuts will come if voters do not pass an operating levy this year.
“We want to be financially prudent, but we have to balance the budget,” said Garside.
The treasurer said the district ranks 14th in the county in per pupil expenditures, spending about $9,336 per pupil. Columbus City Schools comes in the highest with $13,969 per pupil and Upper Arlington following them at $13,907.
All the cuts would come from the district’s general fund. The district will have to pay $85,000 for placement on the Aug. 4 special election. That will come out of the general fund.
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