Schools adopt lean budget

Published 10:45 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

FRANKLIN—Stung by sharp reductions in state funding, the city school board Thursday approved a fiscal 2010 budget that cuts spending 7.3 percent and eliminates 23 jobs.

Nine of the affected jobs will be cut through attrition, or not replacing employees who are leaving voluntarily. Seven of the 23 are instructional jobs, and 16 are support positions. Fourteen are full-time jobs; nine are part-time.

Job cuts would have been deeper but for a $537,603 infusion of federal stimulus funds, which allowed the school division to save five teaching jobs.

“We went forward (during preparation of the budget) putting children first and doing all that we could do before cutting staff,” said Associate Director of Instruction Bev Rabil, who was the division’s acting superintendent before Dr. Michelle Rich Belle’s arrival this week. “Those were our two guiding principles.”

The school division plans to spend $13.3 million in state and local funds next year, down from $14.3 million this year.

Rabil said city government’s proposed budget includes “level funding” of $4.8 million in local tax dollars for the schools. However, the schools must absorb a $1 million loss of state funds due to declining enrollment and state budget cuts. About half of that amount will be offset by the federal stimulus, or “stabilization,” money.

The schools asked the city for $5.2 million in local tax funds to help offset the state reduction but later agreed to absorb the loss through spending cuts. Of the $1 million loss in state funds, $633,225 is due to Franklin schools’ declining enrollment and $419,407 is due to state budget cuts.

Among the more high-profile cuts is the elimination of an assistant principal position at each of the division’s three schools. Franklin High and S.P. Morton Elementary will continue to have one assistant principal each, but J.P. King Middle School’s assistant principal post will be replaced by a part-time administrative assistant who is certified in school administration.

Each campus and the central office will lose a secretarial position, and custodial staff will be reduced at all buildings, saving about $60,000.

Rabil called the budget process “difficult,” but “because we did it as a team, I think that made it a more worthy process and a more thorough process – and hopefully an equitable process.”

“We worked hard to impact service to a child last,” she said.

The school budget will be presented to the City Council, which will incorporate it as part of the city’s overall budget. A draft version of the city budget is expected to be made public next week.