AREA NEWSThe Examiner

Aide Cuts Sought in Mount Pleasant School Budget

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Dr. Susan Guiney
Dr. Susan Guiney, Mount Pleasant superintendent of schools

Mount Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Guiney introduced the final pieces of her proposed $50, 855,456 2012-13 budget that will maintain current educational programs for students, but would result in the layoffs of 10 teacher aides.

Under Guiney’s proposed spending plan for next year, the property tax levy would rise by 2.4 percent to meet the requirements of the state tax cap. If the proposed tax levy hike goes into place, taxes on the average home in the school district would rise by $218 next year.

Working under the tax cap for the first time, made the district’s work to create the 2012-13 budget difficult, Guiney told the board of education and about 50 other residents. “It was no easy feat,” she said.

Aside from the tax cap, there are several other factors putting financial pressures on district finances, including unfunded state mandates, tax certioraris, and increasing employee health care and pension costs, Guiney said.

To meet the property tax cap, Guiney is seeing a reduction of $1.5 million in spending next year However, Guiney said she was not reducing educational programs There is “absolutely no cut to the instructional programs offered to our children,” she said.

One the major reduction proposed by the superintendent is the elimination of 10 teacher aid positions, which Guiney expects to save $300,000. Guiney is not seeking any additional layoffs. Resident Melissa Acciavatti asked Guiney which schools would lose the teacher aides. The aide cuts would be distributed “throughout the district,” Guiney said.

Guiney seeks to cut spending by another $300,000 by reducing out-of-district special education placements. She is also asking the board of education to reduce 1.8 teaching positions, based on lower class enrollments expected for next year. Guiney is proposing to eliminate one first grade section and one fifth grade section; the elimination of the special education coordinator; as well as the reduction of a variety of portions of positions at the high school, including o.2 of a reading teacher; a .3 of an English Language Arts position, .4 of a physical education post, a .5 of a math position and a .5 of a science teaching position.

During the meeting, the board of education voted unanimously to adopt a local teacher retirement incentive program, which Guiney expects could save the district $194,000 next year as new lower salaried educators replace veteran educators. In response to an audience questions, Guiney said she would provide details of the retirement incentive plan at a later date and hoped at least 10 teachers would take early retirement.

Among the other savings proposed by Guiney, the district would eliminate one school bus run, which would save $164,000 next year.

The budget proposal also includes some teaching additions – two more special education teachers for the high school;  half of a full-time special education teacher position at Columbus Elementary School and .6 of a foreign language teaching position at the high school.

Board of Education President Terry Fowler said she wanted input from the public on the proposed spending plan. “We’re here to listen,” she said. “I thinkMount Pleasantis moving forward.”

Despite the economic pressures facing the school district, “I think we’ve come through pretty good,” Fowler said.

The board of education is slated to approve the 2012-13 spending plan on April 4. Residents will go to the polls to determine the fate of the ledger on May 15.

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