By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
GRIGGSVILLE, Ill. -- Personnel moves and finances have the Griggsville-Perry School Board making program reductions or changes for the 2014-15 year.
Board members voted 7-0 in a Thursday night special meeting to trim the music program and the social worker from full-time to part-time. They also voted 6-1, with Darin Mountain against, to cut the family and consumer science/art position to part-time.
Superintendent Andrea Allen said the district expects to save $88,120 with the moves -- $33,250 with the music program change, $29,870 with the FACS/art post and about $25,000 on the social worker.
Social worker Susanne Brawdy's resignation, effective the end of the school year, and the board's decision to discontinue the contract of music teacher John Draws triggered some of the discussions along with a recent move by a neighboring district.
"Meredosia cut music to half-time. Is this an opportunity to get together with a neighboring school and say, ‘Let's work together on this in a part-time situation,' or are we going to hurt our kids?" Allen said. "Our hope is that we can still serve our kids, obviously on a more limited basis, but not disregard those fine arts altogether."
Student numbers, including limited enrollment in Leah Wilkey's family and consumer science/art classes, also factor into the decision.
"We don't have a lot of interest in music at the high school. We have like four kids who are interested in band, and you just can't do anything with four kids," Allen said. "We used to have two sections of chorus. The chorus is maybe 12-14 kids. Most are steered toward those academic classes, or they're sports-minded rather than fine-arts minded."
While the board hasn't set a target amount of savings heading into 2014-15, ongoing concerns about state funding have the board looking at ways to ensure it can meet its roughly $325,000 in operating expenses each month. Allen had prepared different scenarios, with the potential savings, for the board to consider.
One possibility would have trimmed junior high school track, saving another $5,000 to $5,500, but the board will continue to offer that program. The district doesn't have a track and doesn't offer high school track, which means the junior high team travels to every meet.
"Is that going to make you or break you? No, but in today's climate, you're just looking for every avenue," Allen said. "How can you really justify not having music or cutting academic programs and not do anything with sports? It's tough, and the smaller the school district, the tougher it is."
Board members are looking at shortening the sports schedule in another effort to trim costs.
"For instance in high school, the IHSA says we can play in up to three tournaments besides state play. We're going to say two tournaments, get out of the farthest away one to save on transportation costs," Allen said. "We'll cut back a little on our scheduled ballgames, still play all conference games of course, but anyplace that we can cut back and still give kids those fun and learning experiences."
The district also may see more salary savings as with the retirement of veteran special education teacher Peg Ratliff.
"We do have a couple of other people on the elementary staff who are fully licensed to slide into Peg's position if we don't need them due to class sizes," Allen said. "Being unsure of what special education numbers and elementary classroom numbers will be ... we don't know if we'll save an entire salary or save part of a salary."
The board already has a line of credit in place at a local bank, but it has not had to tap it. On Thursday, the board tabled looking at issuing $585,000 in working cash bonds.
"Working cash bonds allow you to have cash capital available to pay your operating expenses," Allen said. "You need some money in the bank to get you over the rough times until you can recoup and go again."
The district levies a nickel in its working cash fund, which generates about $15,000 a year -- not enough to make up financial ground, Allen said.