(12/18/2014)

School board and about 80 visitors hear superintendent's
plan to bring $1.8 million deficit under control

By Bob Weaver

Monday's Calhoun school board meeting was centered on Superintendent Tim Woodward's three-year $1.1 deficit million reduction plan for the county school system, with about 80 attending the board meeting held in the CM-HS auditorium.

Woodward (left) said he was "Leaving no stone unturned," in reaching financial solvency.

"Twenty-one percent of the budget is debt," he said.

During a power-point presentation Woodward detailed the financial decisions over a three year period that has resulted in a $1.8 million deficit.

Some school board members indicated they were in the dark about the escalating deficit.

Woodward reviewed a number of steps already taken, after the community failed to pass an operational levy.

-Previous administration and the WVDE eliminated the $600.00 supplement for all employees saving $98,000.

- Reconfigured bus routes to reduce transportation costs, primarily affecting contract bus payments, saving $50,000.

- Followed an executive order from State Superintendent to reduce all 200 day plus employees saving $106,000.

- Froze Fund 11 County Money, with a special review of every purchase to eliminate unnecessary spending.

- Issued a directive that all facilities be closed at 5:00 pm, with an estimated savings of $30,000.

- Reviewed the State Aid formula to ensure that Calhoun County is within Professional and Service State Aid formula funding.

-Issued a directive from the WVDE CFO to budget $200,000 into deficit reduction.

Woodward said his immediate steps will reduce the deficit by an estimated $600,000 this school year.

Woodward said his three year reduction plan was focused on increasing student achievement, make reasonable progress to reduce the $1.8 deficit, maintain student/teacher ratios, protect extracurricular programs, and use every resource to cut expenses.

He praised the central office staff and school administrators for stepping up to the plate to correct a serious financial problem.

READ SUPERINTENDENT'S REDUCTION PLAN Calhoun County 3 Year Plan

Two school coaches appeared before the board pleading for schools to be open after hours for athletic activities, contesting the superintendents directive for the 5 p.m. closure, further contesting what they said was usurious fees to use gyms and facilities,in some cases resulting in fees of $200-$300 per usage.

Coaches Danny Bunch (left) and Paul Parsons, plead
for more open use of school facilities for athletics

The proposed policy did not affect officially scheduled games.

Calhoun High School basketball Coach Danny Bunch said, "There are hardships being out of the gym by 5 p.m. I'm here speaking up for my boys.I have kids who would make you proud."

"Seems like they're getting the shaft," Bunch said.

Middle High School coach Paul Parsons said, "We're taking our sports kids elsewhere just to practice, we can't get practice in."

Parsons researched electric and utility costs for the use of the facility, giving calculations greatly reduced from those included in the proposed Facilities Use Policy.

He said, "After school athletics benefit a lot of kids, and we could lose them as students," indicating supporters would do their part to help cut costs.

Superintendent Woodward indicated to the coaches they had "legitimate concerns," that some of the proposals could be too harsh, after which board members took the policy change off the agenda for further consideration.

Woodward said in some counties athletic programs had been cut altogether because of tough financial times, and he did not want to take that route.

He expressed dismay over widely circulated problems on Facebook and social media regarding shortfalls at the schools, saying, "They're just not true."

During Monday's meeting, Woodward released the county school standings based on 2013-14 Westest results.

There was discussion about demolishing the part of the old Arnoldsburg school which is in the flood plain, Woodward indicating there are negotiations to lease space in the remaining building with the WVU Extension Service and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, with others expressing interest.

Facilities director Marlan Zwoll reported that the transportation department is down to zero spare buses.


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