Jordan-Elbridge School District could drop 30 employees this budget cycle

Under the Jordan-Elbridge School District's preliminary budget, nearly 30 employees would lose their jobs; the tax levy would increase 7.3 percent.

J-E interim Superintendent Larry Zacher presented the 2011-12 budget to about 175 residents gathered at a public forum last Tuesday, revealing a spending plan of $27,596,582 - 4.6 percent higher than the current budget. Staff members who could lose their jobs were notified March 30.

Zacher said the major sources for budget increase are rising costs of health insurance, retirement costs, unemployment, debt service, legal fees, special education and energy costs.

Residents showed concern over increased legal costs; on Feb. 16, school board President Mary Alley told resident that the board had paid $70,000 in legal fees since Jan. 1. Some residents in attendance last Tuesday suggested the district drop two appeals against decisions made in State Supreme Court in February.

Zacher said savings from this would not be significant, adding that legal costs have resulted mostly from the actions of the plaintiffs who have brought the suits against the district.

The district's preliminary budget includes significant cuts to programming. A combined savings of $134,000 could come from eliminating all assistant coaches, golf, tennis and indoor track and modified athletics.

Zacher said the high school could move away from offering electives annually, and instead offer them every other year.

The board proposed reducing funding of marching band, drumline and winter colorguard by a total of $24,000. Students and alumni spoke strongly in support of these programs at the last school board meeting in defense of these programs. Some residents feared the programs could be eliminated entirely.

Zacher told residents that cuts could still be made to lessen the tax levy increase.

The board could approve the budget April 6, but Zacher said it could also be approved April 13 at a special meeting. April 13 is the board's deadline to adopt a budget.

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