According to Assistant Superintendent Leslie McNaughton, one day the district is under budget and the next day it's over budget, in terms of personnel costs.

According to Assistant Superintendent Leslie McNaughton, one day the district is under budget and the next day it's over budget, in terms of personnel costs.

Personnel director Roy Walker agrees.

"Right now we are about $1,900 over budget," Walker said on the first day of the annual school board retreat June 18. "I also take a look at what positions are open."

McNaughton said she stays in touch with Walker to keep track of the personnel budget.

"We look at what the average is from the whole so that we are making the best choice for our kids," McNaughton said.

Administrators told school board members they are making reductions where possible.

Superintendent Dale McVey said in December that the passage of the 6.9-mill operating levy in November was not enough to prevent a $3-million shortfall in the budget. Even when the board voted last summer to put a 6.9-mill operating levy on the ballot, McVey and treasurer Brian Wilson said passage of the levy would not be enough to keep the district from making cuts.

In August, McNaughton said, the district will reduce a total of 1.5 secretarial positions at the middle school level by eliminating three halftime positions.

The contract for the account clerks in the treasurer's office will be reduced by five working days, but when that would occur is Wilson's decision.

Elementary school secretaries also will have five days reduced in their contract. McNaughton said the secretaries might work only two weeks instead of three before school starts or after school ends next spring, but that will be determined in the upcoming contract.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Hamilton and business-affairs director Jeff Franklin first approached the board in February about consolidating, or clustering, bus stops. Hamilton estimated at the time that cluster stops and the elimination of midday stops could help trim $150,000 from the $3-million deficit.

"Limiting the number of stops is going to reduce route time, fuel consumption, wear and tear on the buses and the reduction of bus-driver salaries and benefits," he said.

McNaughton said administrators also looked at reducing the number of classified substitutes.

One secretary is needed at each building, she said, but the district typically doesn't hire a substitute for absent library aides.

McNaughton said that nearly $100,000 was cut from the budget simply by doing in-house training and taking advantage of Webinars to achieve the necessary professional development.

Moving teachers around as needed

As the district moves from two to three high schools this fall, McNaughton said, administrators carefully looked at what students wanted, in terms of course selections, and are trying to provide the appropriate staffing.

"Even though we had in the budget 12 regular education teaching positions, we could not use all of those," she said. "We possibly have four-and-a-half positions left there at one time."

The assistant media specialist at Davidson High School moved to Bradley High School to become the media specialist. The assistant media specialist at Darby High School moved to Britton Elementary School to replace retiring media specialist Nancy Strater.

"We no longer have an assistant media specialist at any of the high schools," McNaughton said.

The media specialist and media aide, she said, could meet the needs of students and staff at the three high schools.

The mentorship program housed at Darby High School will draw from all three high schools.

Steve Estepp said four halftime teaching positions -- math, English, social studies and science -- will serve the entire district online, whereas competency-based intervention classes have gone from four to three and will be housed at Davidson High School.

McVey said he is comfortable with what his administrators have been doing to meet the reduction expectations laid out in December, but it is an ongoing process.

"We will continue what we are doing," he said.