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Published: Thursday, 4/18/2002

Fayette schools to cut sports if levy fails

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FAYETTE - If voters in the Gorham Fayette school district reject the 7-mill levy on the May 7 ballot, the school board will eliminate all sports and extra-curricular activities, eliminate three full-time positions, and end contracts with the local library and village park.

The school board agreed on an estimated $300,000 in annual budget cuts after meeting for nearly two hours behind closed doors Monday night. The cuts are almost $50,000 more than the levy would generate per year and account for almost 8 percent of the school's general fund budget and 6 percent of its total budget.

“We're doing what we've got to do,” board president Fred Stockburger said. “It's not fun.”

One of the only cuts that board members said they considered but did not adopt was transportation for older students, which is not required by law. Savings would have been minimal and the risk of accidents would increase, board members said.

“We're so bare bones already that there is so little we can cut,” Superintendent Susan Miko said.

If the levy fails, the cuts would take effect by the end of summer when classes resume. Students would not be able to take any industrial arts and some home economics courses, which they scheduled this spring.

The levy is the school's second request for additional funds in six months. A permanent 7-mill levy that the school requested in November failed by a vote of 58 percent. On the May ballot, the board will ask for a five-year levy instead.

It would raise $240,000 a year for operating expenses at a cost of about $235 a year to the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

Such a property owner already pays $995 a year in real estate taxes that go to the school district. In addition, the district has a 1 percent income tax that would cost a family with a $40,000 annual income about $300 a year after deductions.

Ms. Miko said local residents wanted to know what would happen to the 512-student district if the levy does not pass.

The cuts include:

w All sports and weight room and extra-curricular activities for a savings of about $100,000. The board decided to eliminate all clubs and activities - including student council and National Honor Society - rather than a pay-to-participate system. Because it would not have sports, the board would end its $1,750 contract with the Fayette village park for use of the park's baseball field and track.

w The industrial arts program and teaching position for a savings of about $60,000. Some home economics programs would also be cut and the teacher would be reassigned.

w A maintenance custodial position. That leaves the board with two full-time custodians. Repairs that the maintenance custodian had done would be handled by independent contractors as needed. The maintenance custodian's salary and benefits are $39,000. The cost of work by contractors is unknown. Also to be cut are a part-time custodian who sweeps at a cost of $6,000 and seasonal custodians at a cost of $4,000. The amount of cleaning and other custodial work would be reduced by eliminating extra-curricular activities, board members said.

w Computer purchases from general fund monies at a savings of $25,000 a year. The school, which has one computer for every three students, might still purchase some technology equipment with other funds, Ms. Miko said.

w The treasurer's assistant at a savings of $24,000 a year. A cook helper would be reassigned to cafeteria cashier duties.

w A kindergarten classroom aide at $13,000 a year and instructional materials for many grades, also at $13,000 a year savings.

w Weekly trips for elementary pupils to Normal Memorial Library in Fayette, eliminating a $5,000 contract with the library and $2,000 in transportation costs. The board does not have a full-time elementary librarian or a sizeable elementary library. Although Normal is a public library, Ms. Miko said the contract is necessary for the school to regularly take pupils there. The board would also eliminate an elementary library aide at a cost of $2,000.

Mr. Stockburger said he hoped the board's decisions this week would encourage residents to vote for the levy. But he declined comment on whether such a plan would have helped pass the levy in November.

Last fall voters refused the permanent 7-mill levy by a vote of 291-404. About 40 percent of the district's nearly 1,700 registered voters cast a ballot in that election.



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