The equivalent of 9.7 full-time teaching positions could be cut to balance the Oak Ridge school system’s budget, Superintendent Tom Bailey said Monday.
Those cuts would save about $687,000.
Other proposed staffing cuts to reduce spending by a total of $912,000 include the full-time equivalent of 6.5 teaching assistants, one maintenance staff member, and one district-wide custodian.
It’s a “very tough position to be in,” Bailey told Oak Ridge Board of Education members during a half-hour budget presentation Monday.
Bailey said school officials anticipate more new spending than new revenues in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
He said estimated new expenditures total roughly $1.9 million, while new revenues add up to about $662,000. That leaves a $1.2 million deficit.
He proposed reducing the deficit by $911,910 using staff cuts and by another $325,000 through salary and benefit gains from new hires and other line-item reductions.
School officials said they will not ask city officials for more money in the municipal budget that could be adopted May 29.
School board members will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at the School Administration Building on New York Avenue to conduct a line-item review of the budget, and they could consider approving it on May 24.
Ellen Smith says
The proposed budget includes some spending choices that are likely to be worrisome to parents — not to mention teachers.
I’ve only skimmed the budget document, but it appears to me that most of the 9.7 teaching positions — plus most of the teacher assistants — would be cut at the high school. There also would be reductions in health/physical education teachers at all of the elementary and middle schools.
At the same time, if I read the fuzzy PDF table correctly, the schools would maintain current staffing levels in all administrative areas, while adding slightly to the numbers of nurses and IT technicians. They also would continue construction of a “head end room” (still not clear what that is — and Google hasn’t been able to provide much help) for a total cost of $700K, and the across-the-board pay increase for all school personnel would cost over $1.2 million (2.5% of the total schools budget).
I imagine that most parents and teachers would want to put more of the school district’s resources into teachers.
John Huotari says
I think you’re right about most of the proposed teaching cuts coming from high school staff. I haven’t asked about the staff reductions for teaching assistants.
I wasn’t able to attend tonight’s budget review by the BOE, so I’m not sure how the school board reacted to the proposed budget.
Mike M says
Please note that the state BEP only funds 1 nurse but due to special medical needs of students at all schools, one nurse for the system is just not enough. A not-so-small minority of students take some form of medicine that must be administered by a school employee. Yes some could be done by a secreatary but others such as insulin cannot be. Could we do with less than 1 per school? I do not know that well enough to say.
Some citizens with children no longer in school may not realize that public schools have been federally mandated to act as a health resource for students. While I personally have gotten upset with the inquiries, the system is mandated to track a variety if health data (the latest requirements) are in the public education act of 2010. [I tend to not supply the requested for my children but that does not relive the system from asking.]
Bottom line, nurses aren’t limited to putting on bandaids any more. Think of it as one of those federal mandates where things are required without funds to adequately support.
Mike M says
Ellen: Perhaps Dr. Bailey or someone needs to do better in desvribing the Head End Room. I’m not sure where they got that name. The Head End Room will be the place (not sure it’s one room but maybe) where the school system servers, phone systems and related infrastructure unite and are operated. The room will have needed temperature controls and other things needed to provide normal operation and safe shutdown in an emergency. My description sounds simple but you probably know it is more complex.
At one point I believe the City agreed to reciprocally use the school system’s hardware (vice versa) for off-site backup and operation if other government unit’s hardware down. I believe any such agreement fell apart. If so, that’s disappointing. Why can’t the 2 groups work together when there are benefits to both; would provide possible operational cost savings too. Anyway, back to the Head End Room, I hope I have been able to shed some light on it but realize my description is a layman’s one. Mr. Thacker or Dr. Bailey can better describe.
It is needed in our age where everything relies on computers and network connections.
Ellen Smith says
Well, if every educational and government organization needs a”head end room”, that fact is a well-kept secret.
My son the computer geek has worked with a variety of matters (stuff I don’t understand) related to system reliability and connectivity in a business that is vitally dependent on its real-time data connections. I asked him what a “head end room” entails, but he said he was unfamiliar with the terminology (more typically when I ask these kinds of questions, he overwhelms me with information I don’t fully understand).
When I Google “head end room” (in quotation marks), an Oak Ridger article about the school district budget is one of the top 100 hits.
John Huotari says
Thanks for the explanation, Mike. I wasn’t sure what the Head End Room is either.
Angi Agle says
Mike did a good job of describing it. There is space allocated in that room for the City’s head-end as well, with the hope that at some point the schools can back up the city’s servers and vice versa.
At the moment, the schools servers are in a very old, dilapidated building where one bad weather event (or fire, vandalism, etc.) could bring us to a grinding halt.
John Huotari says
Thanks, Angi. Do you know if the schools have a data backup service now?
Anne Garcia Garland says
I’m uncomfortable about the head end room when so much of the computing world is moving to cloud technology. I’m more uncomfortable about the handling of capitalized lease proceeds (see pg 31) which may be in violation of the city charter. And the fact that the school board came to council to “amend” last year’s budget to include these capital leases stating that this was an accounting entry error because they didn’t know how the leases needed to be accounted for. Yet the schools have made these leases in 2003, 2004, and 2008 previously. Learning curve?
There is a good deal more in the details of the school budget which bother me as a taxpayer.