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Ruthven-Ayrshire School Considers Reductions

By Staff | Feb 24, 2011

The sluggish economy is hitting everyone hard, and rural schools are no different. The Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School District has already approved some cost-saving measures, and is considering several more ways to operate leaner.

Ruthven-Ayrshire Superintendent Dr. Norene Bunt explained that the district must cut around $190,000 from its 2011-2012 budget.

“We overspent for a few years now and it has cut into our unspent balance,” said Bunt. “We need to reduce in order to keep operating.”

Unspent balance is the amount of the authorized budget or spending authority not spent during the budget year. Any unspent amount can carry over from previous years.

“If schools have a negative unspent balance for a two-year period, the Department of Education can come in and say that a school district is not viable,” Bunt shared.

A school district considered not viable may be closed.

In light of this dilemma, the Ruthven-Ayrshire Board of Education considered ways to tighten their budget during their Feb. 14, regular meeting.

Three cost-saving measures were approved by the board members: the reduction of a full-time special education teacher (approximate $25,000 savings), reduction in hours for the superintendent’s secretary, and the reduction of a full-time paraeducator ($20,000 savings/based on the needs of students).

Bunt noted, “Most of the cuts are through attrition, either by resigning or early retirement.”

The board also considered more options, which they did not approve during their recent meeting. These potential cuts will be revisited by the board at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 1, at 7 p.m.

The possible reductions include: ending custodial overtime; reducing a full-time 7-12 teacher by .5 or 1.0; reducing a .5 guidance counselor; reducing a .5 music instructor; reducing a .5 elementary teacher; reducing a full-time 7-12 principal to .3; reducing a vocal music accompanist; eliminating payments to staff for Gender Fair and Safe & Drug Free duties; charging Booster Club dues for those who use the weight room/gym; using one bus instead of two for activities outside the school district; and determining if assistant coaches are needed.

“We also considering operational sharing of a director of maintenance and business manager with another school district,” Bunt added. “We could receive operational sharing funding from the state if we do this.”

Ruthven-Ayrshire School presently shares teaching staff with Graettinger-Terril and Clay Central Everly School Districts.

Currently, Ruthven-Ayrshire has a staff of 50 employees, which includes 24 teachers and various other support staff such as cooks, custodians, and bus drivers. The district enrolls 260 students.