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Staff cuts top list for reducing deficit

April 27, 2011

Glendale — With a projected shortfall hovering around $400,000, officials in the Glendale-River Hills School District are getting out their scalpels and are attempting to determine what to trim from the 2011-12 budget.

District Administrator Larry Smalley outlined several proposed cuts at a School Board meeting last week. The list includes:

• not filling a vacant curriculum director position, $125,000;

• eliminating a part-time business manager position, $50,000;

• eliminating a special education paraprofessional position, $40,000;

• shifting band and orchestra to a community services fund through the Nicolet Recreation Department, $180,000;

• reducing a junior kindergarten paraprofessional position, $15,000;

• health care savings, $100,000

Despite a recently passed referendum, Smalley is projecting a deficit between $325,000 and $415,000, in part because of decreased funding from the state.

Although a business manager might not be on staff, the district could adjust staffing within the business office, and some of the savings within that line item might not be fully realized.

The board did not take action on the proposed cuts last week. Further discussion is anticipated in the months ahead, and final decisions do not have to be made until August.

Several items were discussed by board and community members at last week's meeting. The unorthodox approach of shifting band and orchestra programs out of the regular operating budget drew some concern. As proposed, the programs would be available to students at appropriate age levels within the community - not just those attending Glen Hills Middle School.

"I personally feel the band and orchestra programs could be a magnet," resident Nancy Martin said. "I just don't want them to get into another bucket where they're more vulnerable."

Smalley said both programs would still be overseen by the district despite being offered through the recreation department, and he has assured teaching staff they would have control over what takes place in the classroom.

"It wouldn't change the programs," he said.

The director of curriculum position was vacated earlier this year when Heidi Erstad, who had held the administrative position, resigned in February. Smalley proposed the vacancy remain in place for one year.

"Having this position is pretty important," he said.

Board member Bryan Kennedy said he favors innovative solutions to the budget shortfall.

"We've shed hundreds over thousands of dollars over the years," Kennedy said. "We're at a point where there are no more options available."

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