School board has work session to address deficit - L to R:
Mike Wilson, Faye Barnhart, Superintendent Roger Propst,
President Steve Whited, Cynthia Dale, Larry Harris

Calhoun school administrators and Calhoun Board of Education members, during a special work session Monday evening, said they are facing a financial challenge with stagnant revues, declining school enrollment and rising costs, resulting in a deficit.

The deficit was an issue last year, originally reported by the state at $558,000 in 2013, but Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Roger Propst discovered that the shortfall was actually $348,161.

Joe Panetta, Assistant State Superintendent for Finance from the West Virginia Department of Education, was to appear at Wednesday's meetings to discuss the latest deficit numbers, but could not attend because of highway conditions.

Panetta will be at Monday's board meeting to discuss the state's deficit numbers and how to re-mediate the problem.

Dan Minney, Chief Financial Officer (right) presented an overview to the board about the system's financial problems, including the limited number of areas that cuts could be made.

"Eighty-nine percent of the budget is fixed costs, leaving 11% where cuts can be made," Minney said.

Superintendent Roger Propst (left) said Calhoun, in 2013, had the lowest expenditures of any county in the state, with a budget of $8,500,000. The deficit doesn't mean the administration hasn't done the best they can with expenses."

"Most West Virginia counties have excess levies to cover these problems," Propst said, indicating he might ask the school board to put an operations levy on the May, 2014 ballot.

Board member Larry Harris (left) said, "In the past few years we've dug the hole deeper. How did it happen? The board needs to address how to fix the deficit. For many years we operated in the black. A levy should not be just to right the ship."

Harris said he got more information on the street about school problems, the system "picking and choosing" information.

Board president Steve Whited (left) said the information was provided to Harris, acknowledging difficult decisions will have to be made, saying "That's what we must do."

Propst said the board has the options to reduce teachers and service personnel salaries and make program cuts, but it's risky business, indicating many will leave the system.

The state board must approve a deficit reduction plan.

President Whited said, "Teacher costs have risen $1 million dollars in four years."

CFO Dan Minney said much of the problem been created by the "numbers gods" in a complicated system.

Propst advised the board of time frames to place an excess levy on the May ballot.

The discussion will continue at Monday's meeting and the board is likely to made some decisions about the financial problems.

The board discussed search efforts for a new superintendent, with Propst leaving at the end of the school year.

The board discussed issues regarding the closing of the old Arnoldsburg Elementary School, the disposal of the buildings contents, security for the building and possible sale of the structure.

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