Norwin School District will consider layoffs as one way to trim an estimated $3.3 million budget deficit for 2017-18.
The school board Monday voted to authorize administrators to reduce the deficit through a review and reduction of staff positions that may include furloughs.
School board president Robert Perkins said the state’s Public School Employees Retirement System is hitting school districts with a financial burden that has "become unbearable.”
He said school directors don’t intend to cut programs, but they don’t have the answer right now to the financial problem. Board members will work on district finances in April, Mr. Perkins said.
During the meeting, teachers, a former teacher and students urged the board to keep the district’s art, music, and family and consumer science classes.
Christine Satterfield, head of the Norwin art department, attended the meeting with other district art teachers and asked the board to reconsider cutting art and family and consumer science classes.
Judy Ponitz, who taught family and consumer sciences for more than 30 years, said the class teaches both college-bound and non-college-bound students many skills they need to live as independent adults.
“I challenge you to be creative in finding a way to compensate for the budgetary deficit while maintaining the current quantity and quality of all educational programs,” she said.
Norwin senior Erin Crust said marching band helped to teach her personal responsibility, time management, mature social interaction, leadership and a good work ethic.
“I personally know many students for whom band, orchestra, show choir or art classes are the high point of their day, and in preparing for speaking here, I talked with some who flat-out said that they would care less about school and even make less effort to come to school at all if not for their arts classes,” Erin said.
The district is cutting costs in a variety of ways.
School directors approved a new agreement with First Student for district bus transportation, which through the use of new software that will adjust bus routes and stops, is expected to save the district $250,000 to $275,000 per year, superintendent William Kerr said.
A new agreement with Toshiba for copy machines will save the district an estimated $2,500 per month for the next five years, Mr. Kerr said.
The district is also considering increasing fees charged to outside groups to use Norwin facilities.
During Monday’s meeting, Mr. Kerr presented Norwin and West Point graduate Dan Priatko with the district’s Noble Knight Award, which recognizes people who have shown respect, responsibility, courage, honesty and perseverance, fairness and caring.
After graduating from West Point and Army airborne and Ranger training in 1985, he was in a nearly fatal car crash that left him in a coma and on a feeding tube for almost a year.
He fought to recover from his injuries and became an inspirational speaker. He also volunteers at Redstone Highlands senior living community. He is the son of Bill Priatko, who played for the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
Anne Cloonan, freelan ce writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.