More cuts must come from the top. That was the message South Bend School Board members expressed during a special meeting. They were expected to vote on Superintendent Jim Kapsa’s proposed $8.2 million in budget cuts.
They went line by line on Kapsa’s revised list of cuts, and then asked him to make more changes as they still have $1.2 million to cut.
The board took off some of the superintendent's proposed cuts, tweaked some, and even added some.
The one addition that all board members felt strongly about was cutting more money from the central office and support staff, and to keep positions that directly impact the children inside and outside the classroom.
Then, line by line, more suggestions voted on.
Board President Marcia Hummel says, “I have an amendment on the floor that is going to reduce overtime pay by $100,000 rather than $50,000."
Another idea on the floor was reducing non-union workers salaries by two percent, three percent, and five percent depending on what they make.
Hummel says, “That could be your administrators, it could be central administrative staff, who are non-union, principals who've already taken a hit, it would be a hit in addition. They've taken a hit in 2009 and they've taken a hit in 2010.”
Board member Roger Parent says, “I also want to be a bit careful as I mentioned tonight not to hit the ones that are very lowest.”
Hummel suggested the board also take a pay cut.
One area that sparked a lot of concern was the possibility of cutting several social workers. The board ended up voting to keep all of them.
As for librarians, they weren't able to save them all.
Parent says, “To me, a school without a librarian is sort of walking on less than two legs.”
All five positions were cut at the primary centers. That means 19 schools will be affected.
Media Specialist, Charleen Wozniak says, “We are essential. We are the support team for ISTEP. Without us, without professional librarians in our positions, the ISTEP scores have gone down and they've proven that in other states.”
Another definite cut discussed and voted on was eliminating summer school. Not all board members were happy with that decision.
Intermediate sports was a topic as well. The superintendent suggested reductions in intermediate baseball, softball, and soccer programs. The board decided all sports should have equal cuts.
The board will make the final vote on April 7th at a public meeting.