Gary schools look for ways to cut as $4.8 million shortfall looms
By Carole Carlson email@example.com | 648-3154 October 17, 2012 12:25PM
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:11PM
GARY — More cost cutting is ahead for the Gary Community School Corp. to make up for a $4.8 million deficit in 2013.
Those cuts could mean a loss of teachers, clerical staffers and others as the School Board strives to balance its budget of $123.6 million in the face of a declining enrollment and diminished state funding. Furlough days will also be considered.
The board listened to details of a proposed 2013 budget Wednesday as CFO Nakitta White offered an outline of the budget the board is expected to finalize Tuesday.
White said an analysis of student-staff ratios would be completed before staff cuts are recommended. She also said overtime would be eliminated, and supplementary pay typically given to teachers for additional classes would be scrutinized.
Benefit costs are also being examined and all existing consulting contracts could be renegotiated. Utility use will be reviewed, as well, to save energy costs, White said.
White also said the district would implement a mass purchasing policy so it could save on supplies by buying in bulk.
White said the district still receives most of its revenue from the state in tuition support. The district’s 2012-13 average daily membership of 7,752 students is a decrease of 15 percent from last year. The district receives about $7,800 per student from the state.
Meanwhile, White said the district has 1,600 employees, about 220 who are substitute teachers or other non-contracted staff.
The district’s tax collection rate has dropped from 90 percent in 2001 to about 43 percent with the impact of tax caps and uncollected taxes.
White said the district would likely submit an amended budget to the state, reflecting cuts as the year progresses.
Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the projected $4.8 million deficit could be less if other projected savings, such as textbook reimbursement, materializes.
Gary Teachers Union President Joe Zimmerman said he’d take the proposed staff cut recommendations to his board when he receives them and examine them. “It’s something we have to look at,” he said.