The Olentangy school board on June 22 approved a $157.3 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2012 that includes about $500,000 for all-day, everyday kindergarten for about 300 students and a freeze on step-pay increases for about 300 non-union classified staff.

The Olentangy school board on June 22 approved a $157.3 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2012 that includes about $500,000 for all-day, everyday kindergarten for about 300 students and a freeze on step-pay increases for about 300 non-union classified staff.

The step-pay freeze, along with no base-pay increase for central-office support staff, secretaries, aides and other non-union workers, will save the district about $200,000 next fiscal year, officials said.

Superintendent Wade Lucas said before the meeting the district is looking at step pay as a way to cut costs.

Two Ohio Association of Public School Employees' union contracts will expire on June 30. Negotiations have not begun yet. The contract with the Olentangy Teachers Association runs out on June 30, 2012.

The 16,000-student district has about 1,100 unionized teachers and certified staff and about 300 unionized classified staff.

Both Lucas and treasurer Becky Jenkins said everything will be on the table when union negotiations are held.

Despite approval in May of a three-year, 7.9-mill levy and combination no-new-millage bond issue, school officials have said they still need to cut at least $9.3 million in about three years. They said they plan to spare academic programs from cuts.

The all-day, everyday kindergarten will affect about 20 percent of all kindergarten students.

Currently, Olentangy offers all-day kindergarten to about 1,400 students on Mondays, Wednesdays and every other Friday.

The 300 students who will go to all-day, everyday kindergarten next school year at the new Heritage Elementary School were those deemed most at-risk by assessments earlier this year. Sending children to the program is voluntary.

"For right now, it's a one-year (program)," Lucas said. "We'll continue to monitor this."

He and other district officials think this will be money well spent.

"Spending resources toward the most needy students obviously makes a lot of sense," Lucas said.

Providing more classroom time for those students should better prepare them for first grade, he said.

Lucas said the district had been developing a plan to gradually implement statewide all-day, everyday kindergarten, when the Ohio Legislature eliminated the mandate. The district last year received a one-year waiver from the requirement, saying the districtwide program would cost about $4.5-million a year.

Also June 22, Lucas told the board the district wants to rehire two retiring administrators. Pamela J. Bachman, director of elementary curriculum and professional development, and Elizabeth E. Hutchinson, director of pupil services. Each will retire effective Aug. 1.

The board will act on the rehirings at the July 20 meeting. If rehired, each would make $10,000 less a year. Bachman currently makes $90,464 annually and Hutchinson $95,089.

Before the meeting, Lucas said both administrators are high-quality individuals with proven track records. They would be hired under one-year contracts. In the past few years, five people, including three teachers, have been rehired, saving about $130,000.

The board also:

Approved a weekly four-day, 10-hour-a-day summer work schedule for employees working in schools this summer. The shortened schedule means buildings will be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays except for special events. The goal is to save about $70,000 in utility costs over a six-week period ending Aug. 5.

Approved a three-year contract with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office to provide three resource officers for the district. Olentangy will pay $132,695 a year for the officers, which is half the cost. The sheriff's office will pay the remainder.

Heard a short report from board member Kevin O'Brien, who is heading a task force to look at reducing health-care costs. O'Brien said he hopes the task force's work can be completed in six months. The district pays about $20 million a year in health-care costs.