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SH budget workshop packs house

SH budget workshop packs house
SH budget workshop packs house
Corydon resident Bob Pruett, far left, speaks to the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees about its plan to save money during a budget workshop meeting March 16. A large crowd filled the Edmund (Ed) F. Schneider Administrative Building in Corydon for the meeting. Photo by Alan Stewart

An overflow crowd attended the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees budget workshop last Tuesday evening at the Edmund (Ed) F. Schneider Administrative Building in Corydon.
The anxious crowd, some of which watched through open windows outside the administration center, was eager to hear the board’s plan for dealing with a budget reduction of approximately $850,000 for next school year.
Prior to the workshop, the board gave the public an opportunity to speak their mind, and three individuals did just that.
‘The seven members of this school board are to be examples to all the employees of this corporation,’ Josh Evans said. ‘So, in the midst of budget cuts, what are you giving up? How can you ever expect teachers and administration to follow your lead if you’re not leading?’
Evans’ wife, Nicole, is a first-grade teacher at Corydon Elementary School.
Evans then brought up the health insurance proposal for board members that was discussed at the board’s regular March meeting.
At the meeting, a motion was made by trustee Dr. John Gonzaba to eliminate insurance benefits for future school board members, which would save the corporation nearly $69,000 a year, but the proposal was denied with a 3-4 vote.
‘One particular member, who I share many of the same views with, spoke of leaving a well-paying job to join the school board and about how little the pay is for being a member,’ Evans said. ‘I’m sorry, but I must have missed the part about where this school corporation owes you anything; you volunteered.’
Evans also criticized the school corporation for not having a notice on its Web site about the budget workshop. The crowd erupted into applause when Evans finished speaking.
After hearing from the public, the board moved in to the workshop portion of the meeting.
Board president Roger Windell assured the audience that the board will do everything it can to protect faculty and staff positions.
Assistant Superintendent Jeff Hauswald detailed a plan that, ideally, would see no reductions or cuts in staff but would save the corporation money by not replacing 11 retiring teachers.
He went through a study conducted which deduced, through enrollment numbers and other factors, where staff reductions through attrition from retirements could be made.
With this method, Hauswald said, no courses will be eliminated.
The study showed that a total of 11 teachers could be cut from the following schools: one from Corydon Elementary School, one elementary teacher and 1/2 of a physical education teacher from Corydon Intermediate School, 2/7 of a physical education teacher at both South Central Elementary and Corydon Central Junior High School, one social studies, one language arts and 3/7 of a physical education teacher from Corydon Central High School, a science and math teacher, one librarian and 3/7 of a physical education teacher at South Central Junior-Senior High School and two total from the special education department.
Hauswald said there is no room for staff reductions at Heth-Washington and New Middletown Elementary schools.
Mary Mathes, co-president of the South Harrison Education Association, said six teachers are planning to retire and five more would with an incentive package. Mathes read a letter to the board during the public comments portion of the meeting.
‘There are areas across the corporation where cost reduction could free up money for the general fund,’ Mathes said. ‘The education field should be the absolute last place to find this money.’
The incentive package to encourage those near retirement to do so is something the corporation plans to offer, Superintendent Dr. Neyland Clark said, and the details are still being worked out.
Mathes said 10 teachers retiring would save the general fund at least $1.25 million over the next five years.
If 11 teachers retire, Hauswald said the impact of the funding shortfall will be minimal.
‘It’d be wonderful if it lines up,’ Hauswald said. ‘It’d save us $850,000 at least.’
If 11 teachers do not retire, the corporation will move to secondary non-core courses, elective classes and, finally, entire programs to look for areas to save money.
Hauswald thanked those who attended and reassured them that the school doesn’t want to cut any teachers.
‘I thank you for your patience, and I apologize for having to stand,’ Windell said.
No official action was taken at the informational meeting.
The next regular board of trustees meeting will be Tuesday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the administrative building in Corydon.