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Published: Sunday, 7/28/2013

B.G. school officials ask for advice on cutting costs

Board hosting forums after ballot failures

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — Officials of the Bowling Green City School District are reaching out to residents for money-saving ideas after voters rejected two tax proposals.

The Board of Education will hold the second in a series of six forums at 6:30 p.m. today in the cafeteria at Crim Elementary School, 1020 Scott Hamilton Dr. The purpose is to gather public input on ways to reduce expenses in the roughly 3,000-student district.

Since May, when voters rebuffed a 6.75-mill continuing levy request, the district cut spending by about $1.1 million, including $180,000 in one-time-only savings from postponing the purchase of school buses. The May election loss followed the November, 2012, defeat of a proposed school income tax increase.

The district sought additional taxes amid dwindling state funding. The district’s revenues dropped from $30.5 million in fiscal year 2008 to $28.7 million in fiscal year 2013, said Treasurer Rhonda Melchi.

The district doesn’t anticipate a deficit this year or in 2014-15 because of cost-saving steps already taken.

“But we won’t be in a good financial position at that point,” Ms. Melchi said. “We still have some work to do, so that’s why we are having these forums to get public input on what they think we need to do.”

Among the measures taken so far is a salary freeze for teachers, support staff, and administrators that results in $465,000 worth of saving, plus increased employee health-insurance contributions. Saving also comes from reducing a principal, custodian, and secretary position at Ridge Elementary, which won’t open in the fall.

The district also cut two permanent substitute positions, reduced the supplies budget, and trimmed severance payments and custodial staff overtime.

Superintendent of Schools Ann McVey said the pay concessions represent the third year teachers will see a base-salary freeze. This year, teachers also will not receive experience-based “step” increases.

“That has really been noble on their part, but we also know that’s not something you can sustain long-term,” she said.

Ms. McVey said officials will compile and analyze the public’s suggestions on how to save more money. Officials said there’s no target dollar amount that they’d like to save, and no specific timeline has been set for decisions.

“We’re looking at long-term planning for the district because, as everyone knows, the last two levies have not passed. While we are doing everything to cut costs, we need to do more,” said board President Ellen Scholl.

The board has not discussed placing another tax request before voters in November, Ms. McVey said.

Additional public forums on cost-reduction ideas will start at noon on July 29 and July 31, and at 8 a.m. on Aug. 2 and Aug. 7. All forums will be held at Crim Elementary.

Contact Vanessa McCray at:

vmccray@theblade.com,

419-724-6056, or on

Twitter @vanmccray.



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