Hayden School Board hears budget suggestions | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden School Board hears budget suggestions

Half million in recommended district cuts includes staff members

Zach Fridell

Hayden Valley Elementary School teacher Kathy Deepe works with third graders, from right, Justin Fry, Christopher Carrouth, Allison Ingols-Irwin and Cassidy Crawford on a newspaper project Wednesday in Deepe's second- and third-grade class. The combination grade level class is one of the things the school has implemented to save money.

Matt Stensland

— Hayden School Board President Brian Hoza prefaced the special budget discussion meeting Wednesday night by saying he wanted to leave "no stone unturned" as the board discussed possible budget cuts.

More than three hours later, the board had heard recommendations to remove about half a million dollars from the budget, and several jobs were on the table, including staff, directors and at least one administrator.

A budget committee of Hay­den School District employees presented the results of a community survey and their recommendations about how to reduce the budget by almost $495,000 next school year.

No decisions were made at the budget discussion meeting, but School Board members said it would inform the March 17 regular meeting where action will be possible. The board ended Wednesday's meeting by entering executive session where members spoke with administrators and amongst themselves to prepare for the next meeting.

Recommendations included cutting one administrator position, cutting more than four positions at the schools and restructuring several key roles.

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There are four administrators in the district — the superintendent and principals at the elementary, middle and high schools — and a proposed reduction in one full-time-equivalent position would remove one administrator or restructure how the schools are overseen.

"Obviously, that's a big bite in the district … but there's been a lot of discussion with the district's size with the pupil (numbers) reducing, if we can sustain four administrators," Hoza said.

That, in turn, could reshape how the schools look, by possibly moving the sixth grade to the elementary school or changing the setup at the high school.

"If we combine (schools), then a lot of decisions follow," Hoza said.

The list of more than 40 possible budget cuts and alternative sources of revenue was created by the budget committee, with representatives of each school, group or area within the district. Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel participated and led the presentation at the meeting.

Zabel also suggested that more than the estimated $65,000 could be saved by eliminating an administrative position because if an administrator were working half-time, he or she could also cover other roles within the district. Superintendent Greg Rockhold has been acting as transportation director after the School Board ousted Richard "Festus" Hagins.

The meeting room was filled with mostly teachers and at least one parent who asked questions and offered suggestions throughout the meeting, some asking whether the cuts would affect their jobs. The board did not discuss specific personnel, although board member Tim Frentress questioned several resource staff members — those likely to lose a position at the elementary school — about their roles in the school.

The presentation from the committee also included a reduction of one full-time-equivalent position at the elementary school, 1.5 para-educator positions at the elementary school, 1.5 positions at the high school, and a partial position at the middle school.

The suggestions also recommend increases in several fees, including charging $20 per overnight trip for students in extracurricular activities, and charging for online and zero-hour courses. There are many more reductions, from no longer using certain subscription software to not hiring substitute teachers in libraries and in the financial department, policies Zabel said already are being used and may be made permanent in next year's budget.

Budget committee member Kevin Kleckler said the teachers also chose to recommend three furlough days in the next school year instead of forgoing step salary increases because the step increases would alter the teachers' salary for years.

Hoza closed the meeting by saying that the recommendations are a good first step but that the board must make the final decisions, even if that means going against the recommendations.

"It's possible some things may show up that are not on this radar right now," he said. "At least we have the guidance of saying, after sifting all this stuff out, this would be your first recommendation of starting this next phase."