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SH pushes ahead with budget cuts

The April 6 meeting of the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees could be described as bittersweet.
The seven-member board voted ‘ by a 6-1 margin ‘ to adopt a budget reduction plan that calls for the elimination of 11 teaching positions to deal with a shortfall of approximately $850,000 next school year. The cuts will be position-based and will not target specific teachers. Instead, the South Harrison Education Association will work in conjunction with South Harrison administrators with a reduction-in-force process that takes into account a teacher’s seniority and certification to determine who is cut.
The lone nay vote came from trustee Carol Uesseler.
A few minutes after the budget reduction vote, Assistant Superintendent Jeff Hauswald announced that SHCSC was the recipient of a $1.6 million grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. The corporation will receive $400,000 a year for four years. The money will be used to pay for central office staff to direct the 21st CCLC project (alleviating their pay from the corporation’s General Fund), and the rest will go to Blue River Services and Harrison County Lifelong Learning to hire additional staff.
‘Basically, most of this money will go to create new jobs or to expand working hours for some current part-time employees,’ Hauswald said.
In regard to the budgetary cutbacks, the plan put into place is the one discussed at a budget meeting last month.
A total of 11 teaching positions will 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 schools; 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.
The corporation is hoping to reach the 11-teacher mark through retirements. Though some teachers had planned on retiring, others had been holding out hope for an incentive package.
South Harrison Superintendent Dr. Neyland Clark said that on March 31, during discussions with SHEA about the master contract agreement, the two sides successfully negotiated several items but did not agree on a monetary amount for retirement incentives. As such, he said, there would be no early retirement incentive for this year.
‘Maybe next year,’ Clark said.
Later, he told the board that the moves it accepted amounted to $125,000 in administrative cost savings to the corporation. He also said to expect another round of budget cuts from the state later this year.
In addition to the 11 teachers, three more grant positions would be cut.
‘We have three temporary grant positions, but, since they cannot be placed into a regular position because we do not have the openings, we are going through the RIF process with them, as well,’ Hauswald said.
The three positions were paid through grants that were expiring at the end of the year.
But as that grant expires, the 21st CCLC grant gets underway. The CCLC grant will provide funding for staff for this year’s summer school up to sixth grade at three sites and at one site for freshmen through senior class levels. Funding for extended day and after-school programs also will be provided at the same sites in the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011. The grant also funds $60,000 worth of transportation costs.
In conjunction with the $2.34 million Project 2014 laptop initiative, the board approved the purchase of approximately 284 Lenovo ThinkPad laptops for all incoming freshmen at South Central and Corydon Central high schools. The number could change depending on enrollment.
The total price of $211,580 ‘ paid for with riverboat money, which is not eligible to be used to offset any General Fund shortfall ‘ includes a four-year warranty in which the corporation can send in broken laptops which the laptop company will fix or replace. The computers do not have CD or DVD drives; they do contain Windows 7, two gigabytes of RAM memory, a 160 gig hard drive, are wireless capable and have a six-cell lithiumion battery. The display screen size is 11.6 inches.
In another matter, the board accepted by a 6-1 margin (Uesseler voted against) a plan presented by CCHS industrial technology teacher Ben Spencer to initiate Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which prepares students to be productive leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The PLTW program is a nonprofit group that partners with middle schools and high schools to provide a rigorous STEM education in an alternative setting.
‘Traditionally, valedictorians don’t see me in wood shop,’ Spencer said. ‘That’s just the way it’s always been.’
Spencer said, among other things, Project Lead the Way has a focus on engineering and other areas not typical or traditional for shop class. There are some minimal requirements in regard to technology to initiate the STEM program.
Uesseler said she hadn’t done as much research as she would have liked but believed it would cost the corporation anywhere from $350,000 to $500,000 to operate.
Hauswald said many of the starting points for the program were already in place, and, with the introduction of laptops next year, the cost would be closer to a total of $350.
‘I’ll be watching that cost closely,’ Uesseler said.
Several personnel changes were made. They were, by building:
Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative ‘ Accepted hiring of homebound instructors Jan Anderson and Macia John and instructional assistant Michelle Reynolds;
Corydon Cental High School ‘ Accepted termination of secretary Michelle Rogers, leave of absence of teachers Valerie Neece and Kate Fleace, resignation of varsity cheerleading coach Elizabeth Tuell and her hiring as junior varsity cheerleading coach, resignation of girls assistant track coach Mike Wilburn and his request to serve as girls volunteer track coach, and approved Joe Merk for volunteer boys assistant golf coach;
Corydon Central Junior High ‘ Accepted resignation of custodian Jim Hamilton and athletic director Kent Karnes, and approved Michael Wiseman as volunteer golf coach;
Corydon Elementary School ‘ Accepted resignation of instructional assistants Denise Carlisle and Sara Jo Faith;
South Central High School ‘ Accepted boys assistant baseball volunteer coach Stephen Nicholas Gehlbach.