Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 11, 2013

Pay freeze, layoffs possible in Boyd schools

Mike James
The Independent

SUMMIT — Jobs are on the table as Boyd County school officials look for ways to trim their budget.

A district-wide pay freeze also is a possibility.

The deadline is nearing for school districts to submit their budgets to the state and the school board may have to consider layoffs, finance director Don Fleu said.

Board members spent most of a two-hour meeting earlier this week exploring budget-cutting options, Fleu said.

One option under consideration is freezing pay at current levels for the next school year. The district’s salary schedule calls for automatic raises, called step increases, that are based on teachers’ degree status and years of experience. But the state doesn’t require granting the raises, so the district could eliminate them.

It also could eliminate positions, and whether that means layoffs depends in part on how many staffers retire. Since those planning to retire often don’t take the step formally until the last moment, the district may have to submit a budget that includes layoffs.

That would mean notifying staff if their position is in line to be cut, but it doesn’t mean the district would have to actually go through with the layoff if enough teachers retire or it finds the money elsewhere.

The board also is looking at non-staff cuts such as eliminating providing cell phones to staff, but such cuts would not go far in shrinking the bottom line.

The board plans to meet again April 22, hopefully with a final budget draft to approve and submit to the state in May, Fleu said. Members will be working until then to identify other fat to trim.

“It’s going to be a difficult year because all the easy things we could do we did this year,” Fleu said. Those included foregoing bus purchases, buying less high-tech hardware and software, and cutting the maintenance budget.

That leaves personnel as the last area to find significant savings.

The crunch is a combination of shrinking state revenue, the end of federal stimulus money, and the likelihood of less federal funding because of sequestration.

The district has been told to expect 5 percent to 10 percent less in federal funding for federal programs such as the Title I reading and math initiative and for the Head Start preschool program.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.