Brookville board: 20 staff members could be cut

BROOKVILLE — A special meeting of the Brookville Area School Board was held Monday, where board members discussed possible options for reducing spending by nearly $2 million.

Potential reductions include eliminating more than 20 staff members and reducing spending on athletics and extracurriculars.

“This, obviously, is not something that we like to do,” Superintendent Sandy Craft said. “The people on our staff are people from our community that work hard, but this is a must with where we are.”

The Brookville district anticipates a budget of $20.5 million for the 2011-12 school year, a nearly $1.5 million decrease exacerbated by rising costs.

In total, the administration estimates that $1.9 million in savings must be realized.

Craft outlined the possible reduction in staff, saying three teaching positions would be eliminated in elementary schools; seven teachers would be pared from the high school; 10 special education positions would be cut; and numerous aide, secretary and grounds crew positions would be eliminated.

The result would be more students per classroom and fewer elective courses, but cuts would not end there.

“There will be a little more pressure on everybody’s plate, and a few more duties on that plate,” Craft said. “That is what we’ll do, but we’ll maintain the integrity of our community school.”

Craft said $50,000 could be reduced from the athletic department, textbooks could be held for a longer period of time, and students may have to pay for their own materials for electives — such as purchasing their own lumber for projects.

Other areas eyed for cuts could include:
• Restricting freshmen and sophomores from attending Jeff Tech.
• Reducing student activities.

• Eliminating staff and board members from attending national conferences.

• Securing training and services with contracts through neighboring districts.

• Eliminating tuition reimbursement for Act 93 staff members.
Business Administrator Jason Barnett stressed that no cuts were finalized, and the budget situation could improve.

“Everything hurts,” he said. “Everything has an impact. It’s a matter of providing the best programs that we can with the money that we have.”
Craft said the district “has been very frugal,” and reduced spending each of the last two years. State budget cuts combined with rising prices do not reward that frugality, Barnett said.

The state cut Brookville’s basic education fund by $1.5 million. On top of that, costs for salaries and benefits are expected to increase $400,000; out-of-district enrollment could increase $150,000; retirement account contributions could increase $300,000; and insurance will increase $51,000.

“Usually, we get a $200,000 to $300,000 basic education increase,” Barnett said. “That covers most of our cost increases. Now, not only are we getting no increase, but our funding was reduced $1.5 million.”
Barnett said he understands that cuts have to be made, saying, “The governor (Tom Corbett) is calling this a resetting of the budget, which is what we have to do, but it is very difficult.”