At a meeting Tuesday May 9, the Somers-Lakeside School Board voted against holding a levy to raise funds for the 2011-12 school year.
“I think the feeling is that we can make it this year with the cuts we’re going to make,” said superintendent Teri Wing. “The next biennium in 2012-2013 is looking like it is going to be much worse, and the school district will likely have no choice but to have a levy in order to make it.”
The Somers-Lakside School District has cut $180,000 out of its budget for next year through the reduction of staff. A total of six teachers will not have their contracts renewed for next year.
“The following year the district won’t be able to make much of any cuts without seriously damaging the quality of education it provides or jeopardizing its accreditation,” Wing said.
Additionally, the district will be saving money in the superintendent position. Wing is retiring next month and her replacement, Casey Love, will have a lower salary. Love currently serves as the district’s IT person. As he takes on the superintendent role he will also continue his technology duties, which will effectively save the district more money. In all, the move from Wing to Love is saving the district about $74,000 per year.
Other money-saving changes include Somers Middle School principal Lori Schieffer’s switch from full-time to part-time, which will be an $18,000 reduction in cost.
Lakeside Librarian Georgia Pris is retiring this year. Due to her experience and position on the pay scale, her replacement will likely save the district a substantial sum.
Lori Ulland, a Lakeside Title I math teacher, is also retiring, though a replacement won’t necessarily save the district a noticeable amount.
“We have a lot of new things that will be happening here with Laurie (Schiefer) going part-time and Casey coming in without having any superintendent experience,” Wing said. “He is a bright man, though, and I really think he’ll do well. He’ll just be really busy because he’s keeping all the IT work too.”
The district is saving $100,000 by not renewing the contracts of six teachers.
However, with that staff reduction the district lost its Spanish teacher and the middle school must offer a foreign language to keep its accreditation. To fix that problem the school is trying out the use of online classes through Montana Digital Academy.
An aid, who is already employed by the district, will oversee the students in the program.
At the May 9 meeting the school board also acknowledged the resignation of band teacher Matt Iba, who is moving out of the area.
“We hate to see him go,” Wing said.
The school district has posted the vacancy for internal applicants and will soon open it up for external applicants. Wing said the job will likely be a part-time or half-time position.
Board members also discussed letters that the group received from the certified teachers union and the classified union stating that they will not open negotiations for salary increases. That means that teachers in Somers and Lakeside will remain on their current salary contract for two more years.
During the meeting the school board also completed some annual reorganization of its members. It was decided that Dave Alexander will remain the chairman of the board for the sixth straight year. Alice Blasdel will take over Mike Schlegel’s position as vice-chair.
It was also decided at the meeting that future school board meetings will be held on Wednesdays rather than Tuesdays to accommodate board members’ schedules. The board meets the third week of each month at 7 p.m. at Somers Middle School.