Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers presented three budget proposals for fiscal year 2015 to the school board on Wednesday. The proposals suggest that deep cuts will need to be made to attract new students, families, and staff to the district, and to keep those already here. Borchers introduced the proposals by stating that the district will be “tightening our belt.”
Students, families, and staff were the main theme of the budgets proposed on Wednesday. In fact, each was presented to show a different budget scenario that would lose, retain, or attract the group. The school board will review two budgets intended to retain and attract those groups, as well as a third expected to result in a loss of students, family, and staff. All of the budgets proposed generate revenue through expenditure cuts.
All three budget proposals suggest property tax rate increases to offset the cuts, with the rate hikes ranging from 14 to 57 cents.
With about $1.2 million in cost savings, the first proposal has the lowest budget target, and it was referred to as the “losing students-families-staff” budget. It proposed the fewest system-wide cuts, but still suggested that reductions are needed. Those expenditure cuts include increasing class sizes and reducing teaching positions and transportation services. Transportation reductions would increase the student “walk zone” to one mile and end preschool transportation altogether. This proposal would not be able to fund the district’s 1:1 device integration program.
The second budget, said to “retain students-families-staff,” is targeted to bring $3.7 million in revenue through cost savings. This budget would still make cuts to staff and transportation, but would allow the planned 1:1 device integration to begin, which would be cut from the “losing” budget. This budget allows a 2 percent wage raise system-wide, but still calls for staff reductions, including reducing the assistant principal position at Oak Ridge High School as well as extra-curricular stipends and staff development reductions. [Read more…]