Great Valley School District's proposed 2012-13 preliminary budget includes the elimination of five GVSD teaching positions, Superintendent Alan Lonoconus told the school board during a work session Monday night. The proposed cut would save the district $400,000 in the coming fiscal year.
The five teaching positions were cut in the proposed budget based on current enrollment, and do not reflect a program change, Lonoconus said.
Board members were divided on whether the five teaching positions should be eliminated.
"In the last two years, we're down 17 teachers. We're looking at numbers in our high school of 30-plus. ... I'm just really nervous about 17 over the last two years, five more this year, when our student population hasn't really decreased to the same ratio," board member Ellen Behrle said.
"Does the board think we should look elsewhere for [places to cut costs]?" Lonoconus asked at one point.
"I don't know where else we'd look," board member Bruce Chambers said. "When your benefits are rising 15 percent a year, we're going to reach a certain point in time where all we're doing is paying our employees and don't have money for anything else. … you're not going to come up with $2 million by looking at pencils and pens."
Board member Andrew Daga said that rather than cutting teaching positions, he would rather see that $400,000 come out of the school district reserve fund, since the school district normally overestimates how much it will need to take out of its reserves.
Board member Jenn Armstrong worried about adding an additional $400,000 to the already proposed $5.1 million in reserve fund use this upcoming school year. "We have to plan not only for this budget year, but for the years coming," she said.
It may not be possible to cut five teaching positions based on class size standards. After a discussion about class size guidelines that occured earlier in the meeting, board members indicated that they would like to reinstate the guideline for elementary school classrooms to be 22-26 students per class, not the current 22-28 students per class.
Lonoconus told the board that cutting the guidelines to 22-26 students might impact the 2012-13 budget, which district business manager Charles Linderman later confirmed. Linderman said that if the district holds to the 26-student cap in elementary school classes, the district may only be able to cut 2.5 or three teachers.
Linderman also reiterated Chambers' earlier point that teacher salaries and positions are the most pragmatic place to make cuts, as they make up the bulk of district spending. Most of the district's other estimated costs are close to operating cost already.
Trying to balance the budget by cutting smaller costs like paper and pencils "is like looking next to a parking meter for a quarter," Linderman said.
The school board will vote on the proposed 2012-13 preliminary budget at their next meeting on Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the district office.
On Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., the district will present the preliminary 2012-13 budget to the community at Malvern Borough Hall.