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Riverside makes plan to trim impending deficit

May 31, 2011

Faced with a possible $1.2 million deficit in the 2011-12 school year, Riverside School District officials have formulated a plan to spread the cost-cutting pain across the board.
“We are here to do this together,” Superintendent Roberta Kramer told the audience on Thursday at the school district’s second town budget meeting this year.
The biggest sacrifice will be made by the certified staff. Much like most school districts in similar financial straights, Riverside will not rehire its provisional staff and will not fill teaching vacancies created by staff retirements. The staffing plan is expected to eliminate 10 positions.
Kramer said some administration staffers, like the special education director, will suffer pay cuts next school year. She, however, rejected a suggestion by a community member that the entire administration staff take a pay cut to lighten the load on those select staffers.
“I don’t believe we are over-staffed in administration,” she added.
Cuts in the classified staff will not be formulated until later this year when the state budget is adopted and the school district gets a better feel for the enrollment to start the 2011-12 school year.
Cuts in extra-curricular activities, mainly athletics, will also help ease the budget crisis.
The entire high school coaching staff has agreed to a 5 percent cut in salary.
District officials are also looking at changes in the pay-to-play formula and adding a $25 transportation fee to that current $40 per sport charge.
Kramer said the school district will continue to offer full-day kindergarten and work to improve the school district’s technology infrastructure.
There was also a citizen suggestion that the school district sell the naming rights of the current football field named after former Superintendent Jerry Wilson.
Kramer said the biggest source of red ink in the upcoming school year will be the continued drop in K-12 enrollment. District officials estimate a loss of another 55 full-time students (to about 1,489), which translates into a approximately $280,000 in state funds.
District officials also estimate a loss of $147,000 in K-4 enhancement funds based on the state’s proposed biennium budget and $93,000 in federal stimulus funds.
While the proposed state budget does not do away with levy equalization funds (designed to help “property poor” school districts keep up with their richer counterparts), school district officials expect to lose about $90,000 from this program as more of those state dollars will go to west side school districts which have seen steep drops in their property values.
Kramer cautioned that the school district’s budget estimates are “conservative” and that the real funding cuts will not be determined until the governor signs whatever budget the Legislature agrees upon.

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