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Lanesville schools cut 21 percent of workforce

As a couple of people in a crowd of 70 wiped tears from their faces, the Lanesville Community School Corp. school board unanimously ‘ and as some of them said later, begrudgingly ‘ agreed to trim the corporation’s workforce by more than 20 percent last Tuesday night.
The board members faced $1.2 million in budget cuts during the next two years due to statewide education reductions announced in December by Gov. Mitch Daniels. A budget hearing in Lanesville earlier this month packed the cafeteria, drawing 140 people.
‘I know all of you are here tonight for one reason, and that’s because you care about the school and the people here. I thank you for your interest and your care,’ Lanesville interim Superintendent Sam Gardner said last week.
The plan accepted by the board, expected to save $673,229 per year, calls for two secondary teaching positions to be eliminated due to the retirement of Linda Steder, who has 40 years of service, and Darrell Riggins; one elementary teaching position to be eliminated via retirement or reduction-in-force (must be made by June 1); the reduction and realignment of custodial and maintenance positions and responsibilities; the elimination of all instructional assistants and paraprofessionals; utilizing $37,000 from the food service fund for a one-time health insurance expense; using $62,000 from the Rainy Day Fund for a one-time General Fund health insurance expense; and postponing intersession and summer driver’s education programs and using riverboat money to support General Fund operations such as full-day kindergarten.
In all, 17 of 79 employees at Lanesville were cut when the recommendation was accepted.
‘It is possible that when school begins in the fall that some positions may need to be filled in special situations,’ Gardner said. ‘For example, if we need an instructional assistant in regard to maintaining Prime Time class-size requirements in our primary grades, or, for example, if we have a situation in regard to special attention needed for a child or children with a handicap or with handicapping conditions.’
Prior to voting on the measure, board president Donald J. Hussung read a letter to the crowd.
‘I can’t expect anyone to agree with all aspects of this plan. I only ask that everyone respects the fact that this wasn’t easy, it wasn’t asked for, it wasn’t planned and, given the size of the cut from the state, it was about all that we had available during the short time we were given,’ Hussung said.
‘This is a starting point and we sure ‘ hope it’s not an ending point,’ Hussung added.
Board member Denzil McKim agreed.
‘It’s unfortunate that we are put into this situation, but I believe the Lanesville community will face this challenge and get through it,’ McKim said.
Though Hussung asked for comments from those in the audience, no one chose to make a remark.
The board briefly discussed the possibility of a General Fund referendum, which ‘ pending approval from Franklin Township residents ‘ would place an additional property tax on homes or businesses for seven years to help with the General Fund expense.
‘A public meeting would be held to talk about public dollars and what the expense to taxpayers would be,’ Hussung said. ‘It buys us seven years and, hopefully, gives the legislature time to find a better way to fund schools than through sales tax.’
The motion to begin the process of looking into a referendum passed unanimously.
During the principals’ report, Janet Page of Lanesville Junior-Senior High School, said April is busy with social events, including the Spring Festival (April 9), prom (April 24), after-prom from midnight to 3 a.m., the academic banquet (April 16), the academic bowl team competing April 20 at Austin and the Destination Imagination team competing at Noblesville on April 17.
In another matter, the board accepted the 2009-10 master teacher contract, which called for no pay increase.
The board also accepted mowing and landscaping bids from Triple B Co. for school grounds, and from Steven Smith for mowing the baseball field.
In a separate item, the school board accepted more than $4,500 in donations: $2,100 from First Harrison Bank for varsity basketball game Hoop Shoot; $2,000 from Duke Energy Foundation for Success Center; $300 from Darrell Williams for the girls’ softball team (the funds were earned from Leadership Harrison County); $120 from the Harrison County Soil & Water Conservation District for envirothon entry fees; and $40 from Girl Scout Troop 1859 toward the purchase of a puzzle die set.
The board agreed to allow a facilities-use request for the Lanesville Alumni Association on May 8 and for the Lanesville Youth League on May 14, and allowed a field trip to be taken by the seven physics students who make up the Destination Imagination team. Ninety percent of the cost of the field trip would be paid for by the Harrison County Community Foundation.

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