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Published: 6/12/2002

Northwood readies cuts in case levy fails

Northwood High School's guidance secretary will get the axe as will the school district's technology coordinator, if voters reject a 4.9-mill operating levy on the Aug. 6 ballot.

The layoffs are part of a laundry list of cuts the Northwood Board of Education approved unanimously yesterday to close a projected $252,000 deficit if the levy is defeated again. The same millage request lost by 85 votes on the May 7 ballot.

The proposed cuts would amount to $280,228, but they could be increased to $338,728 if the district learns in July that its reduction in state funding exceeds projections, officials said.

Teaching jobs won't be lost, but the reductions would still hurt, Superintendent Ron Matter said. “This is the reality. This is what we've been saying we would have to do. The district cannot approve a budget that is in deficit.”

The district will be strapped next year even if voters approve the levy, he added, because collection of the new revenue wouldn't begin until January. The new millage would increase taxes on a $100,000 home by $150 annually. A mill equals $1 per $1,000 of a property's assessed valuation.

The cuts will go into effect on Aug. 7 if the levy goes down to defeat, the superintendent said. The school board authorized the reductions without discussion in a lightly attended, special 30-minute meeting.

Laying off the guidance secretary and the technology coordinator would save $31,000 and $58,000, respectively.

Cancellation of a school bus purchase would save $55,000.

The other proposed reductions and their cost savings are:

Overtime for classified employees ($6,000), field trips ($6,000), counseling services ($15,000), reading tutors at Lark and Olney elementaries ($16,000), reducing the school nurse's schedule to 120 days from 150 days ($15,100), Saturday school at the middle and high schools ($6,000), instructional enhancement equipment ($14,000), library equipment ($13,900), custodial equipment ($20,000), shorten schedule of library aides by at least an hour a day at Lark, Olney, and the middle school ($6,539), and eliminate freshman sports and an assistant coach in each varsity sport ($17,689).

If the levy fails and the district must make further cuts because of a larger-than-expected reduction in state funding, busing would be eliminated for all students in grades 9-12 with the exception of special needs students ($13,000), more equipment purchases would be canceled ($37,000), and professional leaves would be eliminated ($8,500).

Because of rising property values and a declining enrollment, the district is expected to lose more than $160,000 in state funds in the next fiscal year.

Its operating budget is about $8 million, according to Treasurer Ruth Destatte.



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