Accelify Blog

Carthage Schools Expecting State Funding Cuts

March 23, 2010

State budget cuts are coming, and patrons of the Carthage School District are being asked to help set priorities for potential spending cuts.

Because of a shortfall in state revenues, state education officials are telling schools to prepare for cuts in the funding formula for education, including some that will come in the current year, Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said Monday.

“They’re telling us we’ll get cuts of just over $1 million in a two-year period, so we’re asking the public to help us set priorities,” he said.

The district has posted on its Web site a survey that lists programs, services and activities, and asks the public to rank them in importance. The results will be used, along with other information, to assist the administration and school board in setting spending priorities.

The eight-page survey, in English and Spanish, asks for residents’ rankings in areas including buildings and grounds, employee benefits, instructional programs, personnel, student activities and other cost items. It also asks patrons to rank what the district’s top three spending priorities should be, and the top three priorities for potential cuts.

So far, Henningsen said, about 400 staff members and 400 members of the public have weighed in on the survey. He said district officials are promoting it in talks to civic groups.

State budget problems also may affect the Career Ladder program, in which teachers work extra hours with costs shared equally by the state and the district.

Mark Sponaugle, program chairman, said 185 teachers, counselors and librarians participated in the program last year, and worked more than 23,000 hours beyond the school day. He noted that the school board had budgeted $300,000 as the district’s share of the program this year. A majority of teachers have voted to continue the program next year, and Sponaugle said the program committee will meet to develop alternatives if the state share of funding is dropped.

“It’s good for Carthage students, and we hope it can continue even if that happens,” he said.

In other business at its meeting Monday night, the board heard a student performance progress report from Kandy Frazier, high-school principal. It showed that high-school students exceeded targets in end-of-course examinations in Algebra 1 and Communications Arts 2, and that the graduation rate increased to 82.9 percent in 2009 from 78.6 a year earlier.

The board also:

n Heard a report that good weather should allow the contractor to make up some construction delays on the new Carthage Technical Center, which is six weeks behind schedule.

n Set the district’s nonresident tuition rate for 2010-11 at $6,989, and $1,005 per 90- minute block for classes at the Carthage Technical Center.
n Approved a bid of $54,291 from Southern Bus and Mobility for an 18-passenger, wheelchair-accessible school bus.