Federal stimulus money will offset school layoffsWith the Hudson School District slated to receive more than $1 million in federal stimulus package money, the Board of Education met in a special meeting April 28 to take another look at the 2009-10 budget and proposed staff cuts.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
With the Hudson School District slated to receive more than $1 million in federal stimulus package money, the Board of Education met in a special meeting April 28 to take another look at the 2009-10 budget and proposed staff cuts.
Board members supported a revised recommendation to eliminate two teaching positions as well as secretarial and custodian hours.
The district qualified for $1,072,000 of stimulus money to be used in existing special education programs. District Financial Director Tim Erickson also told the board that there will likely be $165,000 left from the current budget, bringing the total of new funds available for the ’09-10 budget to $1,237,000.
Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten and Erickson then outlined how that money could be used to help offset the more than $680,000 in staff cuts being considered by the board.
They recommended that the money be allocated as follows:
At a special meeting on April 21, the board gave the go-ahead to the administration to consider $683,000 in staff reductions. With the stimulus money and the budget carry-over, the staff budget reductions previously approved could be brought down to $154,000.
Bowen-Eggebraaten outlined the new recommendation, which calls for the elimination of an elementary media specialist for $45,000, the elimination of a part-time high school teacher for $17,500, and custodian and secretarial time in the amount of $71,500.
The new recommendation will not require any teacher layoffs since the current media specialist has resigned and will not be replaced, and the high school teacher will be transferred to another position. There will be layoffs of custodians and secretaries.
The board voted 5-1 in support of the new recommendation.
School Board member and Negotiations Committee Chairman Mark Kaisersatt was the only board member to vote against the administration’s latest staff reduction recommendation. Following the meeting, he said he did not support the recommendation for two reasons.
“First, the reductions identified by the administration will directly impact student learning. We live in an information age, and not filling a media specialist position is not in the best interest of our students. Eliminating the other (part-time) teaching position in theater deprives our students of opportunities in the dramatic arts, which I value highly.”
“Second, I voted no because I am not prepared at this time to lay off any staff. I value the contributions and dedication of all of our employees: administrators and teachers certainly, but no less our support staff; the custodians, clerical, food service, etc., without whom we could not educate our students. Ultimately, with the vast majority of our budget dedicated to staff, layoffs might be inevitable if the economy doesn’t improve or state funding deteriorates further. But at this point, I want to explore every other conceivable option to retain all our valuable employees,” Kaisersatt said in a written statement.
At that April 21 meeting, board members also asked all district employees, including those represented by the unions for teachers and support staff, to consider a one-year wage and salary freeze to avoid an increase in the district’s tax levy and any additional staff layoffs. The board did not discuss that proposal at the April 28 meeting.
See the union representatives’ response to the pending staff reductions in a separate story here.