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Budget talks heat up as USD 251 holds second study session

More questions were asked with no easy solutions given Monday at the second of two special budget study sessions for USD 251 North Lyon County.

Facing declining enrollment and financial uncertainty due to the school funding bill, the school board is looking to trim $200,000 from its upcoming 2018-19 budget. Board members were able to put aside differences for the hour-and-a-half meeting with plenty of dialogue on its options, which all carry potential consequences for taxpayers, students, staff as the district looks to reverse its financial woes.

The board looked at close to a dozen options where cuts could be made. General consensus was that a 10 percent cut to teacher salaries, which based on 2016-17 payroll could save the district $350,000, was “not an option.” Superintendent Aron Dody says he was glad to see the board steer clear of touching teacher salaries.

 


The closing of Reading Elementary is still on the table and would potentially cut $216,500 from the budget. Board member Tammie Reed says while some argue the cost savings, she says it comes at a detriment of losing students.

 

 
Currently, there are an estimated 855 children between 0-18 living within the district boundaries. Dody says another thing that's come up has been a need for a preschool.
 
 
 
Other options being considered include combining fourth and fifth grades at Reading Elementary and moving a P.E. teacher from Reading to Americus which both would save the district $45,000 each. Cuts to athletic and activities are also being discussed which Dody said would include a true cost of more than $133,000. Pay-to-play fees for activities may be another avenue to add revenue. Other suggestions brought up was cutting driver’s education.
 

The board has instructed Superintendent Dody to bring back expenditure numbers for professional development and job descriptions for curriculum coordinator and maintenance director positions to see if those are positions that could be eliminated or retooled for savings costs.

The school board will hold an action session Feb. 21, where they plan to dig deeper and begin the process of making some of those tough decisions.