The state education budget is forcing many area schools to look at several money-saving options. While many of these options may not be preferable, school administrators say they are working hard to make the cuts as painless as possible.
“My biggest concerns right now are financial,” Pat Harrison, Ada Public Schools superintendent, said. “We are facing shortfalls next year maybe twice what we’ve had this year. That’s why we are trying to save as much now as possible.”
Harrison and Todd Crabtree, Byng Public Schools superintendent, said they are currently not planning layoffs, reductions in force, four-day weeks or salary cuts, but other options are being looked at.
Crabtree said his school would likely not fill any positions left vacant by retirees this year.
“Travel and field trips will be reduced next year,” Crabtree said.
Neither Crabtree nor Harrison will be cutting any of their schools’ regular programming next year. Harrison said, however, that Ada’s summer school program would be reduced.
“We have taken a huge chunk out of our summer school programming for this summer for financial reasons. I think our past summer school has been a big help for students and families alike,” he said. “It’s not something we want to do, but a place we can save some money.”
Both schools said increased class sizes are all but inevitable.
“It is almost certain that class size will increase for us and everyone across the state,” Crabtree said.
“I don’t see any way class sizes won’t increase,” Harrison said.
Consolidation is not currently on the table for either school.
Karen Mann, who has several children attending Ada Public Schools, said she has already seen ways the school is trying to save money.
“Normally in (my daughter’s) performing arts class, they do a musical every year. They are discussing going to every other year with that,” Mann said. “Across the board they’ve already had to cut educational field trips because of gas for the busses.”
Mann said she is more concerned about funding for the next couple of years.
“I am worried about them. I think it may be another year or two before things get pretty bad,” she said. “I am very concerned about them, actually.”
Harrison said although he’s tried to spread out the cuts to have less impact on students, classrooms will ultimately feel the strain of more than $530,000 in cuts to-date.
“As much as I hate it, I’m sure those reductions have trickled down somewhat to the classroom.”
For now, administrators said they are keeping a close eye on finances.
“This downturn will get worse before it gets better,” Harrison said.