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TROUBLED PULASKI SCHOOLS

“It’s hard to imagine this being more dire.”
So was the sentiment of Pulaski School Board Chairman Paul Phillips during Thursday night’s Board meeting after members heard about state cuts to education.
The long, somber meeting agenda was full, but by far most discussion concerned proposed cuts that will leave Pulaski County with at least a $3.3 million deficit, and possibly as high as $3.7 million.
Additionally, the system is nearly $500,000 short for the balance of this fiscal year. Something the Board is compelled by law to rectify by year end.
Chris Stafford, finance director, presented the numbers as members sat stunned and silent.
“It’s quite concerning to me,” said Stafford.
Interim Board Superintendent Dr. Thomas Brewster said, “It’s challenging after what we cut last year.”
Also brought up was an expected increase in electric power charges that could reach $500,000 making a staggering bill of $1.2 million for electric power in the new fiscal year.
During the budget discussion, the decline in students in the county was expressed by member Jeff Bain.
“Where are our students going?” he asked.
Dr. Brewster said there was no one reason students were leaving the system.
Each student that leaves the system costs about $6,000 in funding.
Some thoughts on student funding retention were suggested by Dr. Brewster to the members.
Concerns over staffing losses resulting from the huge funding cuts were also on Dr. Brewster’s mind.
“When you get to losing staff positions, it carries a real sticker shock,” he said.
New budget workshops begin next Wednesday where ideas on how to balance the new budget will be debated.
Among areas suggested for review and consideration for cuts include:
1. Do not fill positions open caused by attrition.
2. Placement of paraprofessional.
3. Contracts with consultants to determine the need.
4. Use of retiree substitutes.
5. Stipends and extra days associated with duties.
6. Staffing in all areas of the school system.
7. Benefits (i.e. sick day payout).
8. Shorten school year.
9. Position hired under stabilization funds.
10. Shorten the 200-day contract.
11. Institute different Professional Development model.
12. Move School Board office.
13. Review school trips.
14. Evaluate athletic programs.
15. Evaluate after-school programs.
16. Review after-school activity buses.
17. Review federal and other grants, allowing for indirect costs to accrue to general fund.
18. Automate the receptionist services.
19. Review joint service agreement (w/county).
20. Review matrix communication devices and practices, with purpose of eliminating paper usage.
Dr. Brewster recommended the Board review the list, identify budget priorities, and work with staff to make cuts as they are needed.
Member Bain summed it up by saying, “Everything has to be left on the table.”
The budget workshop begins Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 3:30 p.m.

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TROUBLED PULASKI SCHOOLS

“It’s hard to imagine this being more dire.”
So was the sentiment of Pulaski School Board Chairman Paul Phillips during Thursday night’s Board meeting after members heard about state cuts to education.
The long, somber meeting agenda was full, but by far most discussion concerned proposed cuts that will leave Pulaski County with at least a $3.3 million deficit, and possibly as high as $3.7 million.
Additionally, the system is nearly $500,000 short for the balance of this fiscal year. Something the Board is compelled by law to rectify by year end.
Chris Stafford, finance director, presented the numbers as members sat stunned and silent.
“It’s quite concerning to me,” said Stafford.
Interim Board Superintendent Dr. Thomas Brewster said, “It’s challenging after what we cut last year.”
Also brought up was an expected increase in electric power charges that could reach $500,000 making a staggering bill of $1.2 million for electric power in the new fiscal year.
During the budget discussion, the decline in students in the county was expressed by member Jeff Bain.
“Where are our students going?” he asked.
Dr. Brewster said there was no one reason students were leaving the system.
Each student that leaves the system costs about $6,000 in funding.
Some thoughts on student funding retention were suggested by Dr. Brewster to the members.
Concerns over staffing losses resulting from the huge funding cuts were also on Dr. Brewster’s mind.
“When you get to losing staff positions, it carries a real sticker shock,” he said.
New budget workshops begin next Wednesday where ideas on how to balance the new budget will be debated.
Among areas suggested for review and consideration for cuts include:
1. Do not fill positions open caused by attrition.
2. Placement of paraprofessional.
3. Contracts with consultants to determine the need.
4. Use of retiree substitutes.
5. Stipends and extra days associated with duties.
6. Staffing in all areas of the school system.
7. Benefits (i.e. sick day payout).
8. Shorten school year.
9. Position hired under stabilization funds.
10. Shorten the 200-day contract.
11. Institute different Professional Development model.
12. Move School Board office.
13. Review school trips.
14. Evaluate athletic programs.
15. Evaluate after-school programs.
16. Review after-school activity buses.
17. Review federal and other grants, allowing for indirect costs to accrue to general fund.
18. Automate the receptionist services.
19. Review joint service agreement (w/county).
20. Review matrix communication devices and practices, with purpose of eliminating paper usage.
Dr. Brewster recommended the Board review the list, identify budget priorities, and work with staff to make cuts as they are needed.
Member Bain summed it up by saying, “Everything has to be left on the table.”
The budget workshop begins Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 3:30 p.m.

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