Property Values To Blame For Decatur School Cuts
Come 2014 high school students in Decatur will have a new place to attend class. But they'll have fewer classes.
“Basically now students take eight courses and they'll take seven next year," said Deputy Superintendent Lisa Mann.
Changing District 61's block schedule saves money without having to increase class size. But it is the electives that will be scrapped.
“Because your students don't have as many choices,” Mann said.
Or as many teachers: District wide 36 are being cut as well as 17 teaching assistants. 77 jobs are being slashed in all as the district struggles to save $7.4 million.
“We're running at the bare bones at this point. I mean there's really not a lot to cut until you get to… You're going to affect the classrooms,” said Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault.
Covault wonders how the district will continue with less and less money to work with. While many point to the lack of General State Aid as the culprit Covault says the housing market is what is really bringing the district down.
“Fundamentally the General Assembly is appropriating the same amount they have in the past. The problem is at the local level, as property values decline; there becomes a greater emphasis for the State Board of Education to pick up that difference. But if the General Assembly doesn't appropriate more than the State Board of Education doesn't have the money to pay it," Colvault said.
Since the budget is made up primarily of positions and benefits that is what goes. But it is getting more difficult to find things to cut as well as find ways to add.
“Everybody is hurting. It's going to be very difficult to have a tax increase right now," Covault said.
Speaking of tax increases, a 1 percent boost to sales tax is what is allowing the district to build the new Eisenhower High School. Covault says that could actually help increase property values in that area but nearly enough to dig them out of the hole they are in.
Meanwhile, we're told Superintendent Gloria Davis is staying with the district after not being selected for a superintendent position in South Carolina. Her contract runs through the 2015-2016 school year.
Story by NewsChannel20.
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