SCHOOL PRINCIPALS CUT EXPENSES TO THE BONE

April 27, 2002 12:00 am

By SCOTT GRAVES

The proposed budget presented to the Brookings-Harbor School District budget committee this week was the result of principals and their staff willing to slash expenses nearly in half.

The principals cut their non-salary budgets for next year by 35 to 45 percent. Non-salary items include supplies, equipment, building upkeep, professional development and staff travel.

The non-salary budget at Kalmiopsis Elementary School went from approximately $267,000 for this year to $151,000 next year.

Azalea Middle School's non-salary budget was slashed from $243,000 to approximately $155,000.

Brookings-Harbor High School's non-salary budget was cuts from $363,000 to approximately $225,000.

These cuts are in addition to those made at the schools in January when the district learned it would be receiving less money from the state than originally budgeted.

At the same time, the number of students attending school next year is expected to remain at the same level as this year, which means teachers and staff will have to do the same amount of work with less supplies and equipment.

The budget committee will study the proposed cuts and make a recommendation to the school board, which must adopt a final budget by June 30.

Azalea Middle School

"The teachers have been good troopers in finding ways to make cuts," Azalea Middle School Principal Mike Dillenburg told the budget committee.

"We looked at last year's budget and determined what we actually spent, and then cut some more."

Many teachers, he said, saw their classroom budget cut in half compared to last year.

"What you see," he told the budget committee, "is just the bare bones. No frills."

For example, the budget for the care and upkeep of buildings at Azalea went from $30,000 this year to $15,000 for next year. The amount of money budgeted for sixth through eighth grade classes at Azalea went from $127,650 this year to $94,395 next year.

Another change is that the 110 fifth-graders next year will attend four classrooms at Upper Chetco School. There will be no fifth-grade classes at Azalea.

By comparison, Upper Chetco currently has three fifth-grade classrooms and one sixth grade.

Dillenberg said the number of next year's fifth-graders will be 40 less than this year. This will result in about 28 fifth-graders in each of the four Upper Chetco classrooms, up slightly from the 25 in this year's three classrooms, but less than the 33 students in the one fifth-grade classroom at Azalea this year.

Dillenburg has also recommended that this year's summer school program be canceled.

"These are just proposed cuts; there's a lot more discussion to come," he said. "I encourage parents to keep informed of what's happening and voice their opinions on what cuts they want."

Kalmiopsis Elementary School

Principal Chris McKay said her school will not be purchasing computers, furniture or other equipment next year. Some textbooks and workbooks will purchased, but only if it's absolutely necessary, she said.

"I want to make sure our teachers have what they need to teach the curriculum," McKay said. "We'll buy workbooks over furniture."

The school also preserved its after school program, which she said is "one of the most important ones."

However, most class sizes will increase by about three to four students, or from 26 to 28 per classroom, because the school will not replace a teacher who is retiring, McKay said.

No layoffs have been proposed.

"Everyone has a job and that was really important to the staff," she said.

She said most of the cuts were made "away from classroom instruction."

For example, the budget for repair and maintenance was cut from $3,000 this year to $1,000 next year.

And the budget for computer software was slashed from $3,270 to $1,000 next year.

"While the picture is gloomy, we will continue to provide a safe and respectful place for our teachers to teach and our children to learn," McKay said.

Brookings-Harbor High

Principal Floyd Strandberg said cuts were felt in all disciplines from athletics to language arts.

Most teachers saw their classroom budgets for next year cut by 35 to 50 percent, he said.

For example, the language arts department budget went from $10,000 last year to $4,000 next year.

Athletic Director Pete Payne saw his department's budget go from $60,000 this year to about $45,000 next year, mostly in supplies, equipment and traveling costs.

Strandberg said, "The department chairs have been very creative in cuts. The teachers are doing what they can knowing we are in difficult times and will be facing larger class sizes next year."

The budget for building maintenance went from $54,000 this year to about $25,000 next year, Strandberg said.

This was hard, he said, "because we've been very proud of how well we've been able to keep up the high school."

Strandberg also proposed cutting the library budget from $19,400 this year to about $4,000. "That means we won't be buying any more books."

He informed the budget committee that, if necessary, he was prepared to cut another $35,000 from the athletic department. That would mean cutting "lower-tiered sports" such as the JV2 teams.

"Yes, we can make additional cuts in sports, but which team are you going to cut," he said. "Anything beyond what we've already cut will impact the kids directly."

Strandberg said he would also considering reducing the number of non-season games and special tournaments that teams attend.