T he Whitehall Board of Education voted unanimously to cut eight positions in the 2012-13 budget Monday night. Four of the positions will be cut from full-time to part-time and four will be eliminated.
Administrators recommended the cuts as it began the arduous process of complying with the two percent tax cap. The cuts include instructional, administrative and non-instructional positions.
After the creation of several part time positions, the cuts equate to 4.2 full time instructional positions and 1.8 non-instructional positions.
“Everything needs to be looked at. The bottom line is we are trying to protect the integrity of our instructional programs,” Superintendent James Watson said.
The cuts include one full-time cleaner position, one full-time music teacher, two full-time elementary teachers, one full-time special education teacher, one-full time Junior-Senior high school guidance position, one full-time account clerk-typist position, and one typist position.
One of the cuts — the full time cleaner position — is effective immediately and the other seven will become effective June 30.
Of the eight positions cut, four will be re-created as part time positions. They include a 60-percent music teacher, a 60-percent guidance position, a 60-percent , 11-month account clerk-typist position and a 60-percent typist position.
Watson said that despite the cuts, administrators haven’t eliminated any instructional programs.
This is the third consecutive year Whitehall has had to cut positions. Last year the district was forced to cut nearly ten percent of its staff and the year before they were also forced to cut several positions.
Last month, the board directed administrators to keep the 2012-13 budget at two percent. At the time board members said they understood that complying with the cap could result in the elimination of positions but felt it was the appropriate thing to do in light of the local economic situation.
After crunching the numbers, Superintendent James Watson said the district was looking at approximately a $778,000 deficit to reach two percent.
It is estimated the cuts will shave about $420,000 from that mark, leaving administrators with a deficit of approximately $358,000.
There was some optimism that number would shrink further after the governor pledged to restore four percent of state aid to districts across the state earlier this week, but budget officer Jodi Bradshaw said she was notified by the state that Whitehall was expected to receive only $22,000, less than one percent.
“We were really disheartened with the news from the state. The governor was touting four percent and we didn’t get that,” Watson said, adding that the district had to find a way to make up nearly $1.4 million in aid cuts last year.
As it currently stands the budget is at just under ten percent and the district still has to find a way to cut another $336,000.
Watson said more cuts will likely have to be made and the district will turn their sights on areas such as music, art and physical education.