Cuts Possible as Deficit Looms Over Brighton Area Schools
Board Members must decide whether to implement cuts this fiscal year or look ahead to next year.
Brighton Area Board of Education members spent a good portion of Monday night's meeting discussing budget reduction ideas to offset what could be a $500,000 deficit this fiscal year if Lindbom Elementary does not sell.
Superintendent Greg Gray said that Board members will have to decide at the next meeting whether or not to look at budget cuts recommended by staff prior to the end of this fiscal year or wait and look at them for next year's budget.
Board President Miles Vieau suggested his fellow board members should consider absorbing the deficit this year to use the extra time to make cuts for the 2013-14 budget because it is so late in the year.
Gray said that currently, the district does not know what will happen with the budget, and that it could swing either way.
"It depends how long winter lasts in terms of projections on our heat and electricity," Gray said. "It depends on staffing costs, whether or not we have additional costs second semester with move-ins or move-outs, there's a number of factors that are just out of our control that we have to guess on. Most of the time we come pretty close, but we'll have to see."
The Board will be considering options such as eliminating unionized maintenance and secretarial positions, then hiring them back through a third party at a reduced cost.
In addition, Gray said that the new master schedule put into place for next year will reduce anywhere from 10 to 15 teaching positions district-wide, for an overall savings of anywhere from $1.5 million to $750,000, depending on the pay scale.
Gray also said that the district will be bargaining all other contracts this year.
"We've said 100 times the cost of a school district is tied up in people," he said. "So it will be less people or less money for people. That's primarily it."
Trustee John Conely suggested restoring Pay to Play fees, after Board members approved a 2-year elimination plan last June. He also recommended eliminating the Police Liaison position with the City of Brighton Police Department.
The liaison contract comes before board members for renewal every year and was recently approved last August. Brighton Schools cover the cost of the police liaison officer's salary - including benefits - for the months he works at the school. They do not pay him during the summer months off. The salary the district currently pays the liaison is $79,663, including benefits.
Board Secretary Nick Fiani made several suggestions for cutbacks including either shutting down the aquatics center or turning it over to SELCRA to run. The district has not discussed any such plan with SELCRA representatives.
According to Fiani, the aquatics center has lost an average of $25,000 in the last two years.
Fiani commented that the district was not running a country club.
"It's certainly something we need to look at more seriously given the current conditions," he said.
Gray warned that shutting down the pool might drive even more students out of the district and into others with them.
Board members will decide which cutbacks they would like to pursue during the next board meeting on March 11.
In what areas do you think Board members should consider cutbacks? Tell us in the comments.