Last Modified: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11:48 AM
MONROE (AP) — Four proposed budget plans presented by Monroe City Schools Superintendent Kathleen Harris could result in 50 to 100 teachers being cut next year.
According to Harris, cuts necessary to bring the 2012-13 budget in line must come from classroom teachers in a district she said has been called "top heavy" with instructional personnel. Board members disagreed.
"We have to know more than just numbers; we have to know educational impacts," board member Vickie Dayton said. "To make the decision to cut classroom teachers we have to know that we have looked at every possible cut. We have to make sure we've tightened the belt everywhere possible."
The News-Star reported that the board's finance committee reviewed the budgets Tuesday, but Harris said the budgets will be presented to the full board for information and action in its June 26 meeting.
"We need to start at the top and work down, not start at the classroom," Dayton said.
Harris had previously recommended a budget that decreased the district's surplus by $5 million, but board members directed her to provide a budget that did not spend more than the district takes in each year.
On Tuesday, Harris presented four different budgets that did not include deficit spending, but included significant cuts to classroom teachers.
"You have four options for a true zero-based budget with the requirement that you must reduce staff by 8 percent to spend within your revenues," she said. "I've done what I said I was going to do. We've tried through attrition and for fiscal year 2013 we were going to try to increase the pupil teacher ratio by one or two, but that was not enough for the board, the board wanted a zero based budget, so now you have four."
The four budgets involved different levels of staff cuts which varied according to additional costs included in the budgets.
Harris said the bulk of the staff cuts would likely come from junior highs and high schools.
Two budgets proposed 8 percent cuts which would eliminate 56 teachers. One included an 11 percent cut that would eliminate 77 teachers and one showed a 14 percent reduction which would cut 98 teachers.
Harris contended that a salary study commissioned last year by the board noted the district was overstaffed in the classrooms and cited the board's intentional reduction in classroom size as a possible reason for the surplus of staff and the continued need for deficit spending.