Federal sequester cutting into R-II schools
The Louisiana R-II School District knew that funding cuts caused by the federal sequester cuts were coming and how they will hurt became clearer at the Monday, March 18 board meeting.
The sequester cuts came up three different times in the meeting, affecting remedial-tutorial services, summer school and even the purchase of a new bus.
The district is looking at 9 percent cut in remedial and tutorial services, according to Superintendent Dr. Richard Basden.
That means the Louisiana Elementary School will lose its part-time teacher and reading coach Kay Miller for next year, Basden said.
“We’ll be lucky if it stays at 9 percent and doesn’t go higher,” Basden told the board.
The sequester cuts will also mean the end of the elementary after-school tutorial program, but Elementary School Principal Erik Melton said that won’t hurt as much as it sounds.
Louisiana Elementary already has a system that pays retired teachers to tutor during normal school hours, Melton said.
The tutors are getting through to students better than when they are tutored after school because the students are tired and want to go home, Melton said.
The school will now just keep the tutors working during regular school hours, according to Melton and Basden.
The sequester cuts also put the final purchase of a new bus on hold.
Board members voted unanimously to accept a bid to purchase a new 84-passenger vehicle from Central States Bus for $82,300 and the trade-in of two older busses. However, the vote included the provision that the purchase not be finalized until the deepness of the sequester cuts become clearer.
The board will revisit the bus purchase in April.
Sequester cuts will also remove two hours daily from the elementary summer school program, Basden said.
That means the elementary summer school program will run this year from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The YMCA will continue to come in the school to provide summer afternoon activities, Basden said.
In other news:
• Dr. Basden said the district will have to pay about $51,000 more next year to provide health insurance for district employees because of rising premiums.
The district pays 100 percent of health insurance costs for a basic plan for individual employees. Those employees that want better coverage or family coverage have to pay additionally from their own pockets.
• High school agriculture instructor Bill Capps said the program has received a $2,500 grant from Monsanto that will used to repair the school greenhouse. Capps has also applied to the NRA for a grant for equipment for the program’s trap-shooting team.
• High School Principal Todd Smith said a program to employ students at Fifth Gear is being discussed with the Louisiana shipping and receiving firm.
The program could involve a two-year program, with students working two hours per day at Fifth Gear during their senior year for possible future employment with the firm.