the past month, I’ve been focusing on finances, not only for our school
district, but for the state of Ohio, in an effort to be accountable to you regarding
where we are with revenues and expenses within the school district. I have
noted that we are facing some challenges with current economic conditions;
however, our five-year forecast is as strong as you’re going to see in the area
due to the support of our taxpayers and prudent spending on the part of the
My philosophy as superintendent has always been that we don’t start making cuts when money gets tight. Instead, we constantly look for ways that we can decrease expenses to build as strong of a carryover as possible from fiscal year to fiscal year. For that reason, we have taken every opportunity possible to cut expenses over the past seven years. I will try to quantify for you what that means for us financially. Please understand that what I am presenting to you are major cuts that we have made during this time span. Eighty-five percent of our budget is spent for salaries and benefits. This is typical for a school district since we are a personnel-driven entity. In addition to what I share with you here, we have been holding the line on everything from supplies to professional development expenses, but honestly, in the end, addressing personnel costs is the most effective way to keep expenses in check.
I sat down to come up with a listing of cuts that we have made over the past seven years. Those cuts include: Reducing two classroom teachers at the elementary, reducing two aides at the elementary; reducing a cafeteria worker, changing the elementary librarian position from a certified to a classified position, eliminating the mid-day kindergarten bus routes (this was the result of changing the schedule to provide more instructional time to our kindergarten students who aren’t in all-day, every-day sections), changing the Title I positions at the elementary from contracted positions to non-contracted positions, eliminating the Career-Based Intervention Program (CBIP) at the high school, eliminating the French/Speech program at the high school, changing the supervised study position at the middle school/high school from a Certified position to a Classified position, and reducing overtime to the point of making it pretty much non-existent.
If the above cuts had not been made over the years, it would mean an additional $583,481 in expenses for us this school year. As it is, since the changes I’ve listed were implemented, the total savings to the school district over the years has been a little over $1.7 million.
Have we made some additions in personnel over the past seven years? Yes we have. Due to our high percentage of students with disabilities, we increased our school psychologist’s time from two-and-a-half to three days a week. We increased a high school math/science position from half-time to full-time to meet new state requirements in those subject areas (however, we also cut a half-day study hall position). And the third addition we have made is the establishment of an elementary Art program. These additions have cost us about $70,800 a year, or a total of $276,000 since they’ve been enacted. You can see that even subtracting the additions from the cuts we have made, we have saved almost $1.5 million dollars in expenses over the past handful of years.
Sometimes it is not always good to take the approach that we take here at Hicksville Schools as we have pretty much quietly made these cuts in expenses to preserve our carry-over. The risk we take is that people don’t really know about the cuts so they assume that we’re continuing on with business as usual, which isn’t the case. So often school districts will wait until they’re in financial trouble and then make a very public deal of making cuts to draw the attention of the voters. However, being responsible to the taxpayers of our district is a daily responsibility for us. I hope that the information provided gives you a sense of how we are constantly working to keep our expenses as low as possible while continuing our tradition of offering excellence to our students in all endeavors, inside and outside of the classroom.