Sheridan School District makes cuts in PE, counseling programs

Following a rigorous negotiation process the Sheridan school board and school administration have reached a consensus with the Sheridan Federation of Teachers Union for reductions in force the district must make based on a $30,000 budget cut for the 2012-2013 school year.

While the primary reduction to the district will be the loss of four physical education class periods, each specific class will still be offered in one section. For example, a weights and plyometrics class that used to be available more than one class period is now only available in one section. The remaining sections of PE classes that will still be available to students after the RIF are two periods for elementary, one period for 7/8 grade, one period for 9/10 grade and one weights/plyometrics class.

The district will also see a minimal reduction in the school counseling program, cutting counselor Laurie Bartoletti’s position from a 10-month contract to nine months. The RIF is based on accreditation standards and in accordance with declining enrollment figures, and district superintendent Kim Harding says it will not bring any kind of significant change to the counseling program. While Bartoletti prepares for an additional month of summer vacation, she conveys a positive outlook on the coming school year.

“Even though it’s a reduction in force, I think our school is still really fortunate to be able to say we still want a full time school counselor on staff,” she said.

Bartoletti also pointed out that although there is a reduction, all the current programs would still be offered to students in the district.

“The offering of what is available is still there, so that’s important for people to know because any time you talk about RIF it always sounds so drastic,” she said. “I don’t think anyone likes to hear that word.”

The RIF negotiation process was a series of roundtable discussions between the district administration, teachers union and a school board committee represented by trustees Mike Berry and Bill Wood to discuss the budget concerns. The group reached an agreement on how to sufficiently address the $30,000 budget cut.

“What we do in a RIF process is we really try to focus our staff on what is needed to have the best education possible,” Bartoletti said. “There was a lot of effort made as far as talks between the administration and the union about what is the best process to make sure people are informed and notified and following state guidelines.”

The Sheridan school district will ask voters to pass two mill levies on the May 8, school election ballot. One levy is for 22.19 mils that will generate approximately $67,000 for the elementary school, while the other levy for 4.6 mils will generate $18, 367 to support the high school.

In 2011 the district failed to pass a mill levy for the school, and board chairman Jeff Marsh explains that each time a levy fails it reduces the amount of money the district may ask voters for the following year.

“Each time that mill fails, it cuts out more of the extras,” Marsh said.

Marsh strongly emphasized that voting against mill levies for the school ultimately hurts the children in the community because they lose funding for their education.

“Each time they vote no it lowers your amount that you can budget for,” Marsh said. “So by voting no last year, it dropped it down and then by voting no this year it would drop it down again.”

Superintendent Kim Harding shared Marsh’s sentiments on the mill levy issue.

“We really need the community to support the school by passing these mill levies as it will provide the foundational support for out teachers and our staff members to be able to continue to do their jobs in a very efficient and excellent manner.”

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