September 30, 2014

Medina
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Big service, program cuts loom for Medina Schools

MEDINA — School officials Monday night outlined several areas where the district likely will see reductions in the 2011-12 school year in order to offset a projected deficit that could be as high as $5.9 million.

Though the deficit was projected to be $3.9 million by June 2012, Treasurer Wally Gordon said it could grow to $5.9 million with drastic cuts expected in state spending.

Stepp

Stepp

As one-time stimulus funds begin to dry up in 2012, the state is projecting an $8 billion deficit, which means Ohio schools could receive 10 to 25 percent less in funding, Gordon said.

Medina officials are adding $2 million to the district’s projected deficit, or a 20 percent reduction in state funding, to prepare for the cuts.

“We’re including that in our planning now, our budget for next year,” Gordon said.

Superintendent Randy Stepp said the district plans to lop off $1 million from the deficit by applying for a two-year waiver from the state for instituting mandated all-day kindergarten.

“That’s the easy part of this presentation,” he said at the school board meeting Monday.

The district also plans to add about $600,000 in stimulus funds to the general fund. Stepp said Medina saved the funds in preparation for the budget crunch.

He also outlined several areas that are likely to be reduced next school year. Some of the cuts will be driven by union negotiations, he said.

The district recently came to a consensus with members of the Ohio Association of Public Schools Employees, which covers support staff such as paraprofessionals, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Union members agreed to no raise in base pay and an in-service day was eliminated, Stepp said.

The board is still waiting to close negotiations with the Medina City Teachers Association, which has been working under an expired contract since December.

The board also is considering expanding high school credit to the junior high school so students possibly could graduate sooner and the number of teachers needed at the high school level would be reduced. School officials are discussing the possibility with the Ohio Department of Education, Stepp said.

Another possibility is using a split schedule for high school and middle school students. The schedule might have half of the students attend school between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and the other half from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., he said.

School buses, approximately 30 of which are not being used due to busing cuts, could be leased out. Stepp said he does not want to sell the buses in order to avoid having to make a large capital expenditure should funding for busing return.

The district also is looking into subleasing its central office.

More modular classrooms also could be used. A.I. Root and Claggett middle schools use some modular classrooms.

Textbook purchases would be held off where possible and could come out of the capital expenditures fund, as can any purchase with a lifespan of more than five years, Stepp said.

He said the district will re-evaluate its purchasing services and operational outsourcing to see if it can spend less, something it typically does once a year. Each department’s budget also will be re-evaluated, he said.

Stepp said the district will exhaust program and service cuts before cutting staff, but the possibility of additional layoffs remains.

“We’re going to do everything in each of the other areas, but if there is still a deficit, we’re going to have to go to administrative, support and instructional reductions,” he said.

As for program and service cuts, he said, “there are some things this year that won’t be there next year.”

Contact Lisa Hlavink at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.