Staff cuts likely in order to reduce DPS budget by $2 million

DECATUR--The Decatur School Board is making more than $2 million in budget cuts, and Tuesday night, members talked about where those cuts will be made.

Between decreases in general state aid and local taxes, Decatur Public Schools is expecting a $1.5 million revenue loss for the next school year. Add to that the $750,000 dollars in extra expenses the district anticipates, and that amounts to budget shortfall of over $2.2 million.

One of the proposals at Tuesday meeting was to close down Phoenix Academy, which would save the district more than $200,000. But to make up for the remaining balance, district officials and board members agree that staff cuts are unavoidable.

"For $2 million, you can't just cut programs, you got to cut staffing," said school board president, Brian Hodges.
"Our largest impact being recommended is at the middle school level," said superintendent, Lisa Taylor.

The recommendations proposed at Tuesday's school board meeting included eliminating 12 teachers at Stephen Decatur and Thomas Jefferson. As well as cutting kindergarten and first grade assistant positions and replacing them with literacy assistants, whose salaries would be paid for with grant money.

"We've been able to switch over to a grant that's going to help us a little bit at around $600,000," said Hodges.

At the high schools, the suggestion is to eliminate the Industrial Technology and APEX programs, which would cut another three and a half positions.
"We will displace all of our teachers," said Taylor. "So we put our teachers, teachers of the positions we're eliminating for budget purposes basically go on a list and then we look at license and certifications and then we look at available positions."

These proposals would save the district around $1.9 million, but they are not final yet. The board will review the recommendation and see if cuts can be made in other areas before taking a vote.

"We will work with the unions as well say what's some of the possible things we can do so we don't have to cut staff," said Hodges.
Hodges says a decision should be made within the next month.

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