The Churchill County School District Budget Committee met Tuesday night to discuss more cost-saving recommendations — including a four-day week — that could be presented to the board of trustees.
Phyllys Dowd, director of Business Services, recapped the district is facing $2.3 million deficit stemming from declining enrollment, Public Employees’ Retirement System contribution rate increase, experience step increases and the Affordable Care Act. However, Phyllys said with the projected decrease of students for 2016 the deficit is now at $2,617,464.
At a special meeting held on Feb. 17, the board adopted a recommendation and directed staff and administration to prepare to follow it and report any negative consequences be reported back to the board.
Option two is grade-level schools — the three grade 1-5 schools would be changed to grades K-1, 2-3 and 4-5. Northside Early Learning Center would be Pre-K only and the option would reduce one school administration level and all specials (art, music, etc.) would be cut and only third-, fourth- and fifth-grade would have technology classes and save $1,101,425.
Trustees will vote on option two on March 26.
With a chunk of the budget possibly figured out, the district is still left with about $1.5 million to trim.
The budget committee then discussed the possibility of four-day work week.
Parent Kathryn Whitaker said she has done her research on having a four-day work week and even contacted districts similar in size to Churchill County.
She said it would be a continued cost saving benefit, and the educational outcome for students is great.
“There have been surveys done that show there is no difference in educational outcome when going to school four days a week,” Whitaker said. “It shows that dropout rates are lower at a four-day school week and that students hit their peak of learning on the fourth day.”
Director of Curriculum Kimi Melendy agreed that there is no difference in educational value between four- or five-day weeks.
Dowd said if the district went to a four-day work week, employees would be losing 31 or 36 days depending on their department. She said with the cut, there would be some employees that would lose their benefits and Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). She added that even with the cuts, employees would still receive holiday and vacation days/pay.
Steve Russell, director of the Transportation Department, said if the district goes to four-day weeks, the transportation department will fall apart. He said employees for the department can’t afford to lose hours and more than likely would leave the district to find another job.
The overall savings would be $923,800.
The committee decided not to recommend the option of a four-day work week to the trustees.
The committee did approve a recommendation to the trustees for them to reduce positions and re-organize positions, add two elementary school teachers and consider buyouts with the exception of the athletic trainer position.
The reduced positions include an account technician, warehouse worker, director of Federal Programs and director of Education Services.
At the high school three math, one scienc, one physical education, one English, one special education teacher, a counselor and the dean of students. At the middle school, cuts would include one eighth- and two sixth-grade teachers and two bus drivers.
If approved by the trustees, the cost savings is $1,936,787.
Several committee members agreed that the recommendations should be higher than what the deficit is so there will be cushion next year if cuts must be made.
With that suggestion out, Doug Drost, a financial adviser, said in order to give the district some room he advised to send out 12 additional reduction-in-force (RIF) notices to licensed staff to protect the district in case the Distributive Student Account faces a reduction. That motion was approved.
It was also approved to make a presentation to the bargaining units on the cost share.
All of the recommendations will be submitted to the board of trustees for further discussion and action.