Gallipolis schools cut four teachers

Five aide positions also lost; board looks into more cuts

By Lindsay Kriz -

GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis City School District Board of Education approved its financial reduction plan — and it involves the loss of four teachers and five aides with the least seniority.

The need for cuts came when the district contacted the state late last summer concerning Gallipolis City Schools’ expenses outweighing funds coming in. Superintendent Roger Mace cited reduced enrollment, insurance issues, less federal money, charter schools and less state school funding as reasons to institute a financial reduction plan.

According to a information shared by the board during a special meeting Tuesday, teachers who will be cut in the plan are Courtney White, a middle school language arts teacher, with a salary and benefits amount of $44,501; and Camille Thorne, a high school french teacher, with a salary and benefits amount of $81,986; Patti Bodimer, a high school consumer sciences teacher with a salary and benefits totaling $90,609; and Diane Hamilton, a high school business teacher, with salary and benefits totaling $67,694.

The school plans to keep Stephanie Creighton, a Spanish teacher, and Joan Hudak, who can teach both Spanish and French.

Based on these recommendations from Superintendent Roger Mace, the system will save $258,220 alone.

In terms of aide reductions, those five aides with the least seniority are Craig Sanders, with salary and benefits totaling $31,783; Angel Blazer, with a salary of $17,178; Julie Saunders, with a salary of $19,105; Bethany Birchfield, with a salary of $18,999; and Wendy Baird, with a salary of $35,954.

The estimated savings by cutting the aides is projected to be $123,019.

Along with a reduction of teachers and aides, the board also proposed a classified staff reduction, with Zat Salmons, a head mechanic, retiring. The board wishes to put a person in the position, but not replace the position of head mechanic, which, when calculated, will save $9,828.

The board may also possibly recommend a 10- to 11-month mechanic, which could save even more money. The district will move employee Travis Fisher to maintenance/bus driver, and will redo the job description. The board also cited another possible retiree with a potential savings of $36,030.

Lastly, Andy Hout will be retiring, which is a cost savings because of the way the district will restructure. Instead of head maintenance, the new description will be systems supervisor, which is set to be a contracted outside hire.

Along with the reduction of teachers and aides, the school board is also requiring certain aides to cut their hours from 30 hours per week to 29 hours per week. The board says this will allow each aide to pay 50 percent toward their insurance instead of 25 percent, which relieves the district of paying 25 percent of the premium. The projected savings from this move is expected to be about $31,600.

Teachers with extended days will endure some cuts. Nancy Vaughn, high school guidance office; Amanda Bailey, high school library; Eric Skinner, high school band; and Renee Barnes, middle school guidance office, will all lose nine of their 19 extended days. Cherie Davis, of the high school guidance office, will lose three of her 10 extended days. Altogether, these reductions will save $13,321.

Reductions are also set to take place in the form of the removal of some contracted days for administrators and secretaries. Carita Montgomery, Kris Stout and Doris Henry all currently have 261 contract days, but are set to have 29 of those days cut. Mary Lynne Jones and Beth Vollborn both currently have 222 contract days and will lose 10. With these cuts for five administrators and secretaries, the total savings is projected at $16,556.

The district also plans to combine maintenance, mechanics and custodian positions, which is set to save about $10,000, depending on the structure.

School officials said they hope insurance negotiation savings will save money as well, although the amount is not yet known until negotiations are set. Mace said a potential insurance solution will see those teachers eligible for insurance at higher deductibles or higher co-pays, with employees assuming a little more of the cost.

Through a financial reduction team, which was developed to “evaluate, review, analyze and implement a system to focus on changing the processes for purchasing resources, materials, supplies and transportation needs,” among other needs, the district hopes to save $50,000 per year. According to the board, these savings will come by getting three bids on items to ensure the district has the best price.

After evaluating high phone bills received from AT&T, the district’s technology department investigated all existing lines and their purposes, and found that many of the district’s lines weren’t disconnected during construction. The school, by combining these lines and tying them into the South Central Ohio Computer Association system, hopes to save between $100,000 to $115,000 a year.

Mace said the school system has lost $7.1 million. Broken down, $2.4 million is a stimulus loss, meaning money given to the schools then taken back, Mace said; personal tangible is $1.5 million in loss, property taxes costing $140,000 over two years, personal services costing $495,345 over three years, retirement/insurances costing $640,000 over three years, purchased services costing $878,553 over three years, severance pay costing $576,000 over three years, and enrollment losses at $658,000.

Mace said attendance is down by 34 students as of this school year, with the district down 127 students since 2009.

According to the numbers, preventative reduction during the past five years is at $815,062, with current reductions as $750,000-plus, which is the goal to impact the district’s budget.

The school board, according to Mace, is looking into cutting the freshmen sports teams at Gallia Academy High School and combining them with the junior varsity. Mace also added that at the start of the next school year, district sports are switching from the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League to the Ohio Valley Conference.

The board also proposed a four-day uniform for all employees, meaning four unpaid days for the year, which would help save $273,600. Mace said if both unions agree then some of the other measures may not have to be done. He didn’t specify the nature of those measures.

This approved reduction without the potential retiree savings amount, is set to save $596,248, and with the potential retiree savings amount is totaled at $646,268. Mace said from this point the district’s plan must be emailed to the Ohio Department of Education by Friday. From there, ODE will monitor monthly to make sure the plan is saving the district money.
Five aide positions also lost; board looks into more cuts

By Lindsay Kriz