Gateway opposes more state funding
Share with others:
The Gateway school board Tuesday night laid out a preliminary 2012-13 budget that raises taxes by 0.83 mill, furloughs 27 teachers and eliminates middle school athletic programs.
But last week, while school boards across the state have been pushing for more state money, a majority of Gateway school board members voted against a resolution supporting increased state funding for public education.
"That may seem crazy to all of you," board member Dan Nowak said last week. "Why wouldn't you support the state giving us more money?"
Mr. Nowak argued that increased state funding for public education would result in increased state taxes. He said municipalities, not the state, should tax residents to fund education.
Board member Skip Drumheller disagreed and encouraged the governor and the Legislature to "restore the funding and allow us to educate students."
Mr. Drumheller, Bob Elms and Jim Cappell voted for the resolution supporting state funding, but it failed, 6-3, with Mr. Nowak, Dave Magill, Steve O'Donnell, William Bailey, Janice Rawson and Scott Williams voting no.
Residents packed the small auditorium where the two-hour budget meeting was held Tuesday, spilling over into a larger auditorium where a video feed of the meeting was shown.
Several residents spoke to protest the planned cuts to middle school athletics, which would save the district $118,000, largely in supplemental contracts for coaches.
Lori Pokusa of Monroeville told the board she couldn't understand cutting the middle school athletic programs completely while leaving the high school programs untouched.
"This is how you train them," she said. "This is how you do it."
Last week, the board voted down a resolution that would have prohibited full-time administrators -- nonunion, salaried employees -- from receiving supplemental contracts with the district for positions such as coaching. Three Act 93 administrators currently receive supplemental contracts.
In addition to the furloughs and athletic program cuts, the proposed spending plan would end the district's participation in Boyce Campus Middle College, K-8 field trips, activity buses, band uniforms, the Latin program, the high school math lab and writing center, and three buses that would delay start and end times at elementary schools, among other cuts. Because of declining enrollment and teacher furloughs, some classes could have as many as 30 students, but administrators emphasized that classes that large would not be the norm.
Speakers during Tuesday's meeting decried the cuts, and several students spoke about the importance of programs that are on the chopping block. Others encouraged the district to look at money being spent on teacher pensions and personnel costs -- 67 percent of the district's budget -- for savings.
"Sixty-seven percent of our budget cannot be going toward personnel," said Ken Stancovich of Monroeville. "It needs to be going to our students."
The $67 million preliminary budget is available on the district's website, www.gatewayk12.org. One more public meeting will be held before the budget will be voted on during the board's regular meeting June 27. The June 18 study session is open to the public and will be held in the board room in the administrative building. The board must adopt a final budget by June 30.
First Published June 7, 2012 5:01 am