Details of Centerville schools cuts plan released

Multiple languages to be phased out, field trips and nature program eliminated, student fees to rise by 50 percent.

The Centerville Board of Education said the cuts and increases to student fees will be implemented even if a 6.9-mill operating levy approved Monday for the May ballot passes. They are intended to help stem the revenue losses from the November levy failure, and multimillion-dollar state and federal funding reductions made over the last few years.

These $2.6 million in cuts and revenue follows $12 million in cost reductions made at the district since 2009.

The board said it is possible that there will be further cuts after Gov. John Kasich releases his budget Monday. If the upcoming levy fails, the district said there will be further reductions.

PROGRAMS, STAFFING CUTS

Centerville Superintendent Tom Henderson said school administrators and board members examined all aspects of the district’s expenditures and revenues, attempting to make reductions that they felt would do the least harm to students and their futures.

“We’re taking bits and pieces from here or there, trying to be cognizant of what is best for the kids and to respect where they are in their school careers,” he said.

The changes are expected to result in 13 fewer positions throughout the district, largely through attrition and the redeployment of resources. Attrition is expected to account for $1 million of the cost savings next year. As of Wednesday, the district said it was expecting roughly 26 retirements by teachers at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

Courses or programs that will be eliminated next year include the Business Medical Program at Centerville High School, middle school band tutors, the Grant Nature Program at the elementary and middle school levels, Spanish and naturalist enrichment studies for kindergarten and first-grade students, all student field trips and professional development opportunities for staff.

Other courses will be phased out starting next year, including instruction in Latin, Chinese, Arabic and American Sign Language.

Henderson said because colleges usually request students complete two years in the same foreign language, Centerville High School will offer the second year of these languages next year. Starting in 2014-15, they will not be offered.

Spanish, French and German studies will remain unaffected.

Fourth-grade orchestra will be eliminated and fifth-grade orchestra will be phased out, with students allowed to take fifth-grade orchestra next year. The following year, orchestra will start in sixth grade, as band does currently.

Several other programs will be modified, many contingent on class scheduling. Programs that will change include Yearbook, Mass Communications, Broadcast Management Programs, Technical Theatre, Biotechnology and Applied Technology at the high school.

Gifted services at the middle school level will be altered.

The district will reduce all supplemental, co-curricular and athletic accounts by 20 percent. Henderson said this could mean fewer coaches or programs, or decreased transportation depending on what the athletic department deems appropriate.

COST INCREASES

In addition to cuts, the district’s $2.6 million plan involves generating revenue. Starting next year, the district will increase student and pay-to-participate fees by 50 percent. For example, fees for first grade through middle school were $40 for the 2012-13 school year, and will be $60 in the fall.

For sports and other extracurriculars, the increase is more steep. There are varying fees per activity, but the greatest increase will be to athletic fees for participation in sports such as football and basketball.

They cost $150 per student for this school year, but will cost $225 in 2013-14. The maximum a family will be asked to pay for athletic participation will rise from $450 to roughly $560.

Henderson said the district expects to accrue more than $130,000 via pay-to-participate fee increases.

There also will be a fee schedule for online courses, which previously were offered at no cost to the student. That should generate $62,000 annually in salaries and benefits.

“We’re not out to make money, but we just want to cover our costs,” he said.

OTHER CHANGES

Busing will change for some students next year, as the district plans to expand the transportation walk zones to save $183,000 annually. The walk zone is currently at one mile, and the state minimum standard is two miles.

Henderson said the expansion has not yet been defined, but that radius will be examined with student safety in mind.

Class sizes are expected to slightly increase, especially at the elementary school level, and the district will study the possibility of redistricting elementary schools to even out attendance. There have been no decisions made on the timing of this potential change.

The district also will reduce its use of paper mailings, copiers and classroom supplies, in favor of more electronic communications.

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