By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — WALTON — Southeastern School Corp. will experience staffing cuts for the coming school year. The district’s superintendent, Trudie Hedrick, said programs won’t be cut, but staffing within programs will be.
Hedrick said she can’t discuss what positions will be cut because that hasn’t been decided yet, but she did say leaders are looking across the board at administrators, staff and teachers, both certified and non-certified, at all three schools in the district.
“No area is sacred,” Hedrick said.
The decision to cut staff stems from concerns of the general fund in the district’s budget. As it stands, nearly the entire general fund — 99.32 percent of it — is used for salary, benefits and student services such as the career center and Logansport Area Joint Special Services Cooperative (L.A.J.S.S.C.), Hedrick said during a board meeting Monday night.
One concern within that group is L.A.J.S.S.C., the special education co-op that provides resources to improve education of special needs children. The program is going through decentralization and employees at each of the co-op’s nine member schools will go back to their own school district. For Southeastern school district, that means 12 aides, six certified teachers and one speech pathologist involved in the program will transfer back to the district’s staffing roll.
The general fund is also supposed to cover utilities and classroom supplies, Hedrick said. The general fund cannot mix with county tax dollars used for transportation and federal monies for Title I grants, for example.
The general fund is made of state tuition funds based on student enrollment numbers, Hedrick said. The student-staff ratio is a concern. Student enrollment has declined, but staff numbers haven’t decreased proportionally, Hedrick said.
“We will need a reduction in staff,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick briefed staff on the budget situation in a meeting this month. She said she didn’t like delivering the news, but she believed it provided a better understanding of what is going on.
In the coming month, Hedrick will be looking over what courses students have requested. Those requests will be taken into consideration when looking at staffing changes for the next year.
A public forum will be offered to community members in the near future to go over the budget. Although a date hasn’t been set yet, Hedrick wants to let people know the reasons the school’s decisions are being made.
Some visitors at Monday’s meeting expressed concern about the public’s perception of how business is handled in board meetings.
One regular meeting attendee said there needs to be increased public awareness. If there were, patrons would be clearer on what is going on at the school corporation, the visitor said.
Another visitor said she has heard community members talk who perceive secrecy in the school board’s actions.
Board members said to have a clearer picture to what is going on, more people need to attend the meetings regularly.
“We need more people to come and ask questions,” Cain said. “We’re not trying to hide things.”
During the meeting, board members accepted the resignation of Mark Karmel, Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School Principal.
The process to advertise for the position and interview possible candidates will begin immediately.
Hedrick agreed that she wished more people would attend monthly meetings.
“I wish people would take advantage of my open door,” Hedrick said. “I think there would be a lot of clarity about where the corporation is going instead of rumors.”
Hedrick said she welcomes any questions people might have and if she doesn’t have the answer immediately, she will find it. Those with questions can email email@example.com or call 574-626-2525.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
Southeastern School Corporation will keep its extended school day in effect a little longer in order to make up another missed school day. Board members approved extending the school day through May 12. Students have a total of 54 hours to make up unless additional days are waived. The last student day will be May 27 and graduation will be June 1.