Board of education contemplates cuts
Marysville Board of Education members held a nearly four-hour executicutive session after hearing comments and suggestions from community members on the levy that was rejected by voters Nov. 6.
The board agenda listed the reason for the executive session as "personnel" and "to prepare for negotiations."
Marysville residents voted down the 4-mill levy, which left the district with a $2 million budget shortfall. The failed levy means cuts must be made in order to enter into the 2013 school year with a balanced budget.
Board President Jeff Mabee said the board laid out a framework for reductions in August to prepare in case the levy failed.
The initial proposal included 35 staff positions. One central office administrator would be eliminated for a savings of $88,520; one secretarial post would be cut for a savings of $42,240; and a reduction in administrative contract days would save $75,000.
The plan also includes cuts to the classified staff. The jobs of 13 office aides, support services, secretaries, custodians and nurses would be cut for a savings of $213,600. Certified staff cuts include 20 teachers, mostly high school and middle school elective teaching positions, some K-12 guidance support, K-8 reorganization of unified arts and K-4 classroom teachers. All of those proposed cuts total $2 million.
"Although we have not made any definite decisions as of yet, we are working through the process of refining and finalizing that framework into exactly what those reductions will be," Mabee said.
The Marysville Education Association, the union representing teachers, presented a letter to the board with a list of recommended cuts. The list includes:
* Reduce or eliminate extracurricular activities.
* Consider eliminating transportation for the high school starting as early as January or next school year.
* Reduce the maintenance staff to critical needs.
* Reduce non-essential supplemental staff.
* Increase pay-to-play fees and reinstate transportation fees for these activities.
* Offer early retirement and/or buyout incentives for teachers.
* Reduce staff at the transportation garage.
* Do a cost analysis of the outsourcing of copies.
* Do a cost analysis of the receiving center for the mail and shipping that go directly to buildings.
* Next school year, add a fixed fee for students, such as $5 a student, to aid in paying for those daily supplies.
* Analyze redistricting the buildings with a possibility of closures.
MEA President Juliet Litzel told the board teachers have made several concessions to help the budget ,including taking a pay freeze and foregoing raises that were already negotiated.
"Our pride in Marysville schools is strong. We have proven that each time we have been asked to do more with less," said Litzel.
"Morale is awful," she added. "It's sad. It's the boards' job and responsibility to make sure we have enough money to run. And now it's too late. We had one chance and it's gone.
"These cuts, we understand, are mandatory. It's a state funding problem. But now it's all 'us'," Litzel said.
The board also heard from Janet Benedict on behalf of the physical education program and from Mary Ann Corbin on behalf of the business education program.
A petition was also presented by Marysville High School student Jonathan Driscoll with more than 700 signatures, asking the board to prioritize cuts to busing and transportation before teachers and extracurricular activities.
"I hate that our levy didn't pass. I am proud to be a Monarch. If some people told me to run into a brick wall to prove it, I would," Driscoll said.
He said the petition was circulated and signed in one day in response to the failed levy and the desire to protect the teachers.
Some who spoke to the board offered alternatives and some blamed the board for not being prepared and for presenting a levy too late to avoid cuts.
Superintendent Diane Mankins said the week was full of heavy hearts and difficult conversations, but she is committed to pushing forward to find solutions.
"It's not going to be easy," she warned. "There's going to be bumps and bruises along the way. The outstanding people who came here, the kids that spoke, the community members that spoke, the teachers that spoke -- that's what makes this place unique. It doesn't happen everywhere."
Mabee said the decisions ahead will be difficult.
"If you've ever had to sit across the table from someone and tell them they don't have a job any more, it's gut-wrenching," he said. "I appreciate and respect all the work that our staff does for our kids. We just want to continue to move forward.
"Throughout this process, the governance team will keep a student-first mentality and ensure that we are following our district mission and belief system," Mabee said.
The board has special meetings scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 28 and at 10:15 a.m. Dec. 8 to discuss reductions.