Budget Cuts on Table in Claremont

Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Claremont — In order to meet a directive from the School Board to develop a budget for the 2018-19 school year that is $1.2 million less than the current year’s, layoffs will be required, according to Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin.

McGoodwin, who will present his budget tonight for the fiscal year that starts next July 1, informed the board in a memorandum included in the meeting agenda that more than $1 million in employment costs have been identified in the budget.

McGoodwin told the board that “employees who could be impacted by these reductions” would be infored privately prior to tonight’s meeting, where cuts will be outlined in greater detail.

McGoodwin said an explanation and description of how the reductions will affect all aspects of the district will be part of his budget presentation.

In September, the board voted to direct the administration to cut $1.2 million in spending for the coming budget year, which would translate into a estimated reduction of $1.71 in the education portion of the city’s property tax rate. The board included a number of conditions: no cuts in instructional staff or athletics; no increases in administration or support staff without “supporting data and board approval”; and no increase in the tech center budget nor any new technology initiatives

When McGoodwin presented his initial $32.9 million budget proposal last month, it carried a $1.7 million, or 5.5 percent, increase from this year, which sparked a contentious discussion with some board members who accused the superintendent of deliberately ignoring their directive.

But McGoodwin defended his budget recommendation. He said the 3.8 percent ($1.2 million) cut the board was seeking would do irreparable harm to the district and also ignored the financial realities of increases for new collective bargaining agreements and insurance coupled with reductions in state aid.

He said those increases would mean the actual spending cut would need to be closer to $2 million to meet the board’s demand. Nevertheless, McGoodwin did promise to produce a budget the met the board’s parameters.

“You made it clear you want a budget $1.2 million below this year,” McGoodwin told the board in November. “You will see that and then it will be in your lap.”

Board Vice Chairman Chris Irish said the responsibility for making the tough decision on the cuts belongs with the board.

“Make us do the heavy lifting,” Irish said.

On Tuesday, School Board Chairman Brian Rapp, who was not present at the meeting in September when the $1.2 million cut was approved, said there are not a lot of places in the budget to reach more than $1 million in cuts without eliminating positions.

“My fear all along was that it would effect services of education,” Rapp said, emphasizing that supporting data must accompany the cuts.

“These are not recommendations (from the superintendent),” he said, “they are based on what needs to be done to cut $1.2 million.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com