A number of current and graduated students took the microphone to support the position of their favorite English teacher, Thomas Murlin. A relatively new addition to the district, Murlin was hired three years ago. If 26 cuts were made to the teaching staff, which has been discussed as a possibility, Murlin's position would be eliminated.
Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong presented information on increasing costs and planned cost reductions, offering an explanation to where funds will be used. Gas prices, salaries, health insurance premiums and increasing retirement system costs for both teachers and employees are all on the rise, and adversely affecting the school's finances.
"The total increases we're seeing to our budget are $872,000, which coupled with the reduction of state aid leaves us with a budget deficit of $2.122 million," Furlong said.
Different departments of the school district have been evaluated and a few areas have calculated some savings. Supply costs may be reduced by 25 percent, saving $60,000. Conference costs could be decreased by 50 percent, saving $30,000. Various changes to the athletic department, such as recycling jerseys and equipment can help reduce costs by 10 percent, saving the district $50,000.
While it was apparent that some board members disagreed what should be cut and why, they all agreed that developing the budget soon is a high-priority. Over the course of the next month, the board will finalize their plans for reductions. At the March 21 board of education meeting, a list of program cuts will be made available to those who attend. The following meeting has been moved to April 11, at which copies of the official budget will be available.