Simms recoomends more than $300,000 in school cuts

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— The elimination of the transportation secretary position, two school aides, overtime costs and a bus route were among Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms' recommendations to cut the district's budget by $332,000 for the 2003-04 school fiscal year.

The proposed reductions totaled about $160,000 less than previously anticipated as a result of reduced certified staff salary increases, which were originally estimated at 5 percent.

Eliminating the nine-student Strawberry Park bus route will save the district $12,500, Simms said.

Transportation secretary Kathy Gonio, who works 15-hour weeks, will lose her position if the proposed cuts are accepted by the School Board at its June 16 meeting. Gonio's duties will be picked up by the new transportation director and district office staff, Simms said.

Gonio, who attended the meeting, said the $14,660 the district will save by cutting her position is overstated. She also said she was concerned her nine years of experience with the district will be wasted if she's not there to assist the incoming replacement for Transportation Director Marj Kelton.

SSEA President Smith, who was given release time this school year in order to fulfill his duties as head of the teacher's association, will not be granted release time next year under Simms' proposals. Such a move could force Smith to return to full-time teaching at the high school while continuing to serve as SSEA president.

Smith was granted release time because of the high number of classes he was forced to miss while serving as SSEA president in previous years, he said.

Cutting the high school parking supervisor position will save $18,000 in personnel costs, Simms said. Principal Dave Schmid and assistant principal Mike Knezevich will absorb those duties, she said.

"That is a preferable scenario than completely eliminating the high school athletic director and athletic director secretary," Simms said.

There had been speculation that those two positions would not be filled following the resignation of standing athletic director Bruce Crowhurst.

To maintain funds for those jobs, Simms proposed charging privately funded high school sports additional money as well as increasing athletic participation fees, collecting athletic participation fees typically retained by the high school and collecting high school parking permit fees, which are kept by the high school.

Reducing an aide from both Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School will save the district $38,000, according to Simms' recommendations. Middle school Principal Tim Bishop and Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis would determine which aides would not return, she said.

Simms also proposed reducing the work year of district maintenance personnel and Facilities Director Rick Denny by five days to save $10,000.

The proposal irked Holloway, who questioned Denny's willingness to cut staff and work days while accepting a $10,000 bonus contract to serve as owner's representative for the $1.6 million middle school expansion project. The School Board recently approved the contract for Denny.

"I find it unbelievable that the board would pay $10,000 to Rick Denny to oversee the middle school expansion project," Holloway said. "It's absolutely unbelievable that he would accept that raise, then cut half a (maintenance) position and five days a year for maintenance employees."

Denny thanked Holloway for her courage to speak out against him and defended himself from her comments. Denny said he had no personal financial gain in mind when he proposed the contract idea and that his contract will actually save the district money from using an outside hire. Denny volunteered to terminate the bonus contract.

The board will vote on a preliminary budget at its June 16 meeting. Fisher said the board could make changes to Simms' recommendations.

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