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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2004

Pike-Delta-York: Officials look for more cuts in expenses

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DELTA - In the Pike-Delta-York Local School District, where voters approved an operating levy last fall, school officials are continuing their efforts to reduce expenditures.

Superintendent Russ Griggs said that PDY is in a situation familiar to several school districts across the state, including Swanton and Evergreen, that have obtained voter approval for additional funds and are watching finances closely.

"It's happening everywhere," Mr. Griggs said, noting that this marks a fundamental change for school districts.

In previous years, he explained, school districts typically passed levies and then it was business as usual. "They brought everything back" that had been cut, he said.

"Ten to 15 years ago, they often operated the same way until the next levy. That has changed in the last five or six years," Mr. Griggs said. "Now, schools pass levies and make cuts, but the cuts are not as drastic."

Among the cost-saving measures in the Pike-Delta-York district, the school board has agreed to rehire a retiring administrator. Randy Lintermoot, who has been with the district for 30 years, was rehired last week as high school principal with no salary increase for the next two years.

Mr. Lintermoot, who will retire effective Aug. 1 and return to work Aug. 3, does not qualify for health insurance which will save close to $10,000 in the coming school year, Mr. Griggs said.

The board also accepted the resignation of a school administrator who is voluntarily stepping down from a principal's position as part of the district's administrative reorganization. Deborah Johnsen, principal at Delta Elementary School and former principal at York Elemen

tary, will receive a continuing contract as a teacher, Mr. Griggs said. She has been with the PDY district for 16 years.

Kevin Herman, who is principal at the York building, will serve as principal of that school as well as Delta Elementary School. His salary has not yet been set, Mr. Griggs said.

As part of the administrative assignment, Jamie Grime, high school assistant principal, will retain that position and serve as assistant elementary principal. He will spend more of his time at the York school, and Mr. Herman will spend the bulk of his time at the Delta Elementary School, Mr. Griggs said. The changes will save the district about $75,000 administratively, the superintendent said. "It is a net decrease of 20 per cent out of the administrative category," he said, taking the district from five to four administrators.

In other action last week, the board of education voted to pursue implementation of a breakfast program for students in all of the district's schools. Next month the board could consider prices for the program, Mr. Griggs said. "We just want to provide better nutrition," he said. If details can be worked out, the program would get underway this fall, he said.

In the Evergreen school district, some jobs have been reinstated, but other cuts will be in effect for the coming school year. The school board last week reinstated a sixth-grade teaching position and a kindergarten teaching position. In addition, 12 aides were reinstated.

Evergreen Superintendent Kenneth Jones said enrollment in the middle school, which houses grades 6, 7, and 8, is approaching 350 students and about 80 kindergartners will register for next school year.

Last December the school board voted to cut several positions, including a school principal, for the 2004-2005 school year in response to an anticipated $600,000 budget shortfall. With voter approval in March of a five-year, 0.75 percent income tax, the district's financial situation has improved, the superintendent said, but the district won't receive revenue from the income tax until mid-2005. The income tax levy will generate an estimated $900,000 per year.

Passage made the decision to reinstate teachers and aides easier for the school board, he said. Reinstatement of the aides is being done largely because the district is reducing administrative staff by one elementary principal, he said. Seven teachers and three full-time aides won't be called back, he said.

Sherry Seiler, Lyons Elementary School prinfipal, will take responsibilities for that school and for the Fulton Elementary School in Ai in the fall. Mike Sullivan has been interim principal in Ai, and his position won't be filled at the end of this school year. Elementary students will be consolidated under one roof when a new elementary building opens in January.

The district estimated about $100,000 could have been saved with cuts in place, but with the levy passing and enrollment increasing, school officials feel comfortable putting those positions back in, Mr. Jones said.

Evergreen's bus transportation has been reinstated for the new school year, but there will only be one bus run, instead of two, to pick up and drop off students.

Extracurricular activities will be in place for the coming school year, but there will be a participation fee for those activities, including sports, but that fee has not yet been set, Mr. Jones said.

In the Swanton Local School District, voters in March approved a five-year, 1.25 percent income tax, but school officials are still working on budget numbers. Until the budget is drawn up, officials won't know what cuts will remain in place for the 2004-2005 school year. School officials cut $1.6 million from the budget last year, and more than 20 teaching positions were eliminated.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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