During the Tuesday, June 16 Chillicothe R-II Board of Education meeting, the board heard from Superintendent Dan Wiebers about the district’s financial status, and changes he has researched in regards to the budget shortfalls the district is facing.
On June 2, voters defeated a measure for a property tax increase for Chillicothe R-II Schools. Had the levy measure passed the school would have received more than $900,000 in funding for the schools.
Wiebers said for the 2020-2021 school year there needed to be cuts made totaling $432,230 and cuts estimating a total of $678,895 must be made for the 2021-2022 school year for the district to break even and not deficit spend or use reserves, something Wiebers said has to stop.
“We were already deficit spending for the 2019-2020 school year and with cuts from the state we have been dipping into our reserves farther and we cannot continue to do that,” Wiebers said.
Wiebers proposed cuts in two phases, for the 2020-2021 budget year and the 2021-2022 budget year.
“Every attempt will be made to protect the educational offerings for the students of the district, but unfortunately, the decline in school funds will require the district to make difficult decisions that will affect administrators, teachers, non-certified staff, and students,” Wiebers said.
The district is losing approximately $219,000 in state funding due to COVID-19, which affects the 2019-2020 school year budget.
Wiebers noted that while not holding summer school did reduce some revenue for the school, it would have cost much more for the district to hold classes this summer.
Cuts for Phase 1 could include reductions in supply funds, removal of paraprofessionals from certain areas, elimination of two bus routes, which would save $25,000; elimination of all pre-school transportation, no replacement of retiring staff; limiting of technology purchases; limit instrument repairs, cut sports supply funding by 10% and no field trips for the upcoming school year.
Cuts in Phase 2 may include the elimination of portions of the WINGS program, reduction of off-site athletic competitions for middle school students, elimination of some programming, continued reduction of supply budgets and continuation of freezing of wages.
Wiebers discussed cuts in excess of $45,000 for professional development and a savings of $60,844 for the upcoming year by filling vacant positions from staff already within the district.
During the Tuesday meeting, the board heard recommendations from the district’s salary and welfare committee. The committee, which has been notified of the freezing of salaries, had several recommendations for Wiebers and the board. Those recommendations included free lunch and breakfast for substitute teachers on the day they are working; two additional general leave days that could be used before a holiday, with two weeks notice.
The deadline for filing on the August 4 ballot was May 28, days before the June 2 election, so the district is unable to file for the August ballot to place the levy issue before voters again. The issue went before voters in April 2019 and again in June 2020.
The budget must be finalized by June 30. The board is holding a special meeting to approve the budget on June 29.