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By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Early retirements impact 2018-2019 budget

WORLAND — Six Worland school employees are taking advantage of the district’s early retirement incentive with the Washakie County School District No. 1 board approving all six Monday night.

 

March 28, 2018



WORLAND — Six Worland school employees are taking advantage of the district’s early retirement incentive with the Washakie County School District No. 1 board approving all six Monday night.

Partaking of the incentive are Jacque Pike, Worland High School physical education and swimming teacher; Worland Middle School industrial arts teacher Dean Barent; third-grade teacher Alisa Martin; elementary music teacher Beth Magstadt, fifth-grade teacher Dave Hammond and Barb Sinclair, longtime elementary teacher and behavior strategist with the special education department.

With the incentive the retiring employees receive a total of $20,000: $10,000 in September 2018 and the other payment in September 2019.

BUDGET IMPACT

During a budget work session prior to the regular board meeting, Superintendent David Nicholas said he is recommending only filling back one of the positions, which would be a savings of over $400,000 for the 2018-2019 budget.

Business Manager Jack Stott said the music teacher position would be filled and Barent’s position would be filled with a transfer.

Nicholas said the district will be recommending six teachers next year for kindergarten including begindergarten, with 85 students already pre-registered for next year.

The student-to-teacher ratio is about 14:1, he said.

In first grade there are six teachers and they are recommending transferring one teacher to one of the retirement positions. There would remain five teachers in second, third and fourth.

He said at the fifth grade where there are six, with one retiring, he is recommending transferring a position to fill Barent’s at WMS, leaving four teachers in fifth grade. He said that would be 22- or 23-to-one ratio.

“This way no one loses a job, otherwise we are likely looking at a reduction in force,” Nicholas said. He added that he appreciated the board offering the early retirement incentive.

“We feel uniquely positioned that [early retirement positions] happened in positions we can absorb,” Nicholas said.

OTHER CUTS

In addition, the district is recommending cuts of $25,000 each in the areas of building budget, textbooks, technology, capital construction and summer school.

Nicholas also said the

stipends, in lieu of raises, provided to employees, last year was $550,000.

“If you take the stipends plus the reductions you’re over $1 million now of available funds to kind of work with to balance this budget,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said the state cuts amount to about $25,000, based up on recent legislative action. He said the district is also losing $350,000 due to declining enrollment.

Regarding the proposed cuts, trustee Anna Venable asked if there were other areas to cut besides the building budgets, concerned about supplies for teachers being cut.

Stott said a building budget includes maintenance supplies, bathroom supplies, copy paper, and a “whole plethora that go into day-to-day operations.” What it is not is wages and benefits, utilities or heavy maintenance.

“It’s not just classroom supplies. The principals work hard to protect the classroom supplies,” he said.

Venable also asked about some of the elective classes at the middle school and high school that have low or declining numbers.

Stott and Nicholas said the core classes have about 20 to 25 students but electives do have smaller numbers.

Venable said she wanted to make sure the district was getting the “most bang for our buck.”

Trustee Joe Bishop said, “That’s just part of whole education process. It gives kids an option. If you eliminate classes with smaller numbers, you run out of options.”

Venable said, “I agree but we also have to be good stewards of our dollars.”

Nicholas said when they look at the cuts they analyze impact to teachers and students and try to determine what has the least impact.

Board chairman Don Bryant said, “We just want to make sure every kid in the room has a book. We went through a few years ago where every kid didn’t have a book.”

He added, “I’m really happy to see this early incentive work again. We’d be talking a lot more activities and people, and building budgets would be a lot different. Does this other stuff sting, yea, it’s going to sting. I don’t really want to see 17:1, 16:1 but that’s going to be a reality across the state.”

INSURANCE

The district’s health insurance costs for the new fiscal year that starts July 1 is still in question. The district is currently with the Wyoming School Boards Association Insurance Trust (WYSBAIT) but is seeking bids for insurance proposals. Stott said the district has been with WYSBAIT for about 10 years.

Nicholas explained that the $350,000 is covered by the state health insurance factor. According to state statute, if the state health plan suffers an increase then the state pays that increase costs to every district whether they are on the state plan or not.

“Se we get a bump of $275,000 because of their increase, that can go to offset our insurance costs, so that’s really helpful,” Nicholas said.

Stott said the state health plan is getting an 11 percent increase.

Nicholas said there are also cuts to instructional facilitator, transportation and cap on special education.

Stott said in an interview Tuesday that the district’s special education budget was at $4.5 million last year and should be a little higher this year.

One concern with a cap next year on special education (the cap being this year’s funding) is that there are unknowns for special education, specifically out-of-district student placement. Last year the district spent about $600,000 on out-of-district student placement, Stott said. “Those can fluctuate wildly depending on the students.”

Regarding transportation, Stott said the state has a moratorium on districts purchasing new buses unless one dies. There will be an interim study on the overall transportation costs, including reimbursement costs and purchasing buses.

He added that the transportation costs have also been capped at current levels.

Nicholas said, “I am comfortable telling you that with the money you have available. I think you can do something with stipends or balance the budget with the numbers that we know where we’re at now.”

The stipends offered last year were $1,300 for teachers, $1,000 for classified staff and $1,000 to the health savings account.

 
 

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