07 Jul Schools Await Word on Del. B udget (DE)

July 7, 2010

By: Sarah Lake
Source: Delmarvanow.com

While the district has not received a synopsis of the recently passed state budget, officials fear the administrative positions eliminated this year will not be restored.

"Time is running out for us to prepare for next year," said Susan Bunting, Indian River district superintendent. "If we get clearance from the (Board of Education) to recreate those positions, that’s one thing. If not, we will have to use the people we have."

Earlier this year, four administrators — Roselyn Fradel, vice principal of Lord Baltimore Elementary School; Herman Riggin, vice principal of Selbyville Middle School; Walt Smith, director of transportation; and Sandy Smith, director of curriculum — were informed their contracts would not be renewed next year due to budget cuts.

Dave Maull, a spokesman for the Indian River School District, has said a lot of uncertainty surrounds the Delaware budget situation and the nonrenewal of administrator contracts is the Board of Education’s attempt to protect schools in the event of budget cuts.

"They’re safeguarding themselves in case the budget situation is severe and has a rough impact on the district," he said. "We’re hoping this is temporary. It’s possible these contracts will be renewed after we know how the budget will affect us."

On June 29, Gov. Jack Markell signed a $3.3 billion fiscal 2011 budget, a 7 percent increase from last year.

A proposed reduction in minor cap funding was not approved and was restored to last year’s level. Additionally, a 25 percent transportation cost shift that would have cost the district roughly $1 million did not go through.

Because federal stabilization monies used to fund several positions within the district will soon run out, the fate of these four administrator positions is still unknown. Bunting said three of the four individuals who were at risk of losing their jobs have since been rehired by the district to fill different positions.

Karen Field Rogers, associate secretary for financial reform and resource management with the state Department of Education, says the stimulus money was only meant to be used for two years.

"The federal government only put out a certain pot of money and we’re coming to the end of those funds," she said. "Districts will still receive some stimulus money and they’ll have to make their own decisions regarding what they will do with it."

Patrick Miller, chief financial officer for the IRSD, said he expects a report from the state July 12, and the school board will likely discuss the issue further at its next regular meeting.

"We really haven’t heard much as of yet, and we’re waiting to be provided with an overview," he said.

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