The Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education officially laid off 30 certified teachers and additional employees – for a total of 49 — during Monday’s regular meeting in an effort to reduce the budget deficit.
The employee cuts reduced the deficit by $2.3 million, leaving it at about $3.9 million.
The board plans to be sending the deficit budget to the state after its public hearing is held June 27 and the budget is officially adopted.
“Because the largest portion of the school district expenditures are used to pay for employment of its teaching staff, and the current economic state of the school district and the need for reductions in staff has been discussed at prior board meetings; therefore for economic reasons, the School District must reduce its teaching staff to reduce costs,” wrote School Supt. Thomas Riutta in a memo to the board.
“This is just the beginning,” said Board President Martha Toth.
Supt. Riutta said they haven’t done the special education area yet and, “This is going to go on all summer…”
Riutta said about a year and a half ago the board said to look at cutting everything not required by law and that draft plan called for cuts of band, athletics, transportation and a reduced day.
He said the board wasn’t interested in damaging the core program and curriculum and backed off the severe cuts.
“If you eliminate transportation, you’ll eliminate one-third of your kids, if not more,” Riutta said.
“We’ll be coming back all summer,” he said to the board. “We need another $500,000 to $600,000 in cuts.”
Riutta said they will be looking at health care and efforts to privatize.
“Anyone who doesn’t make an effort to cut expenditures is going to have a visitor,” Riutta said, referring to an Emergency Financial Manager sent by the State to districts who aren’t seriously working on their deficits.
Those teachers officially laid off are: Amber Berryman, Rebecca Gadja, Chelsee Harris, Elise Harrison, Sarah Sierota, Kimberly Glime, Sarah LeBlanc, Erin Knotts, Sara Cook, Jennifer Runyan, Lisa Myers, Anita Norman, Bethany Charvat, Jenna Stamper, Kristina Brashear, Tamara Mida, Yvonne Mallon, Stephanie Nota, James Parcha, Michelle Kinsey, Gary Stevens, Heather Bell, Jamie Wiese, Kristin Horchem, Kirsty Hickson, Lalurie Kunz, Kim Henry, William Spinks, and Michael Schwartz.
Toth pointed out that some of the teachers on the list were laid off last summer and recalled last fall. She said she hopes some will be recalled this year.
Also proposed, but not voted on, were reductions of 10.5 paraprofessionals. The total savings with the cuts to teachers and paraprofessionals would be $1,839,194.
Additional proposed cuts of 5.5 secretaries and 4 custodians, adds another $367,475, and along with $129,476 cuts to athletics, the total saved by removing 49 employees is $2,336,145.
“All the class sizes are going up, as the staff is transferred around,” Riutta said.
The athletic proposal includes raising the participation fees to $75 for the high school and $45 for the middle school; eliminating capital outlay by $5,000; reducing athletic supplies by $15,000; reducing medical supplies by $1,500; eliminating boys’ varsity tennis, girls’ varsity golf, girls’ freshman basketball, freshman volleyball, one BHS track position; eliminating seventh grade sports at North and South Middle Schools; eliminating one MS wrestling coach; eliminating the athletic trainer; changing the secretarial shift; and renegotiating coaching stipends.
Riutta said a figure of $130,000 in requested cuts was given to the athletic department and they came up with the cuts totaling $129,476 – pretty close.