While reviewing the month's financial report at Wednesday's meeting, Supt. Robert Green told the Greencastle School Board he has been working with the principals in trying to cut expenses throughout the corporation.
The corporation currently needs to cut about $800,000 in spending for the 2009-10 school year.
"The principals and I have been looking at what we can do without touching the classroom instruction," Green said. "Cutting $800,000 from a budget our size is quite a chore."
They have already made cuts to their remediation program as well as cutting out spending on all professional travel, including that of the superintendent.
Other possible areas of budget cuts could include coaching, instructional assistants, the number of students attending Area 30, the music program, custodians and cutting all summer help. The corporation will also be running on a four-day workweek during the summer to save on utilities.
"We're trying to cut everywhere we can, short of the classroom," Green said.
Unfortunately, the cuts may also have to include reductions in the number of teachers. This issue remains up in the air, though, pending the funding received from the stimulus package and based on the number of teacher retirements at year's end.
"I hope by the March meeting we have an idea of what the federal government is going to send us. I'm also hoping to know about retirees before we have to send out RIF (reduction in force) notices to teachers," Green said.
"I'm hoping that between what we get from the federal government and possible retirements, we won't have to do that," Green said. "I don't want to put any teachers through that because it's very traumatic, very stressful."
Green said he will speak to the board in more depth on the issue at the March meeting.
The board also approved a pair of curriculum changes at Wednesday's meeting.
The school system will now have a standard grading scale for grades three through 12 as well as a new class in the graduation requirements at the high school
Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert and Tzouanakis Principal Dan TeGrotenhuis were present requesting that the grading scales at their school be changed to match those of Greencastle High School.
The breaks between letter grades at the high school currently fall at 60, 70, 80 and 90 percent, while the breaks are higher at the other two schools.
"Eighty percent of our staff is in favor of it, and almost right down the line, our parents feel the same," Gobert said.
The entire district used to be on the higher grading scale, but the high school changed a number of years ago because of the disadvantage at which it could place GHS students when applying for college.
Favoring the standardized rules across the corporation, the board approved the measure 5-0.
The board also approved a change to the high school curriculum. GHS Guidance Director Vicky Williams was on hand to request a change to the high school graduation curriculum. Currently, one technology credit is needed to fulfill graduation requirements. However, students use computers throughout their school experience, so Williams thought a different requirement might be in order.
Instead, beginning with the class of 2013 (next year's freshmen), students will be required to take a career exploration class at some point in their freshman or sophomore years.
The idea is to get students thinking about what sorts of career fields they would like to look at before their junior years when they have opportunities like Area 30, DePauw Alpha courses and AP courses.
Williams said she wants to see the kids looking into career options and then working on skills such as resume building and simply researching their fields of interest.
"I don't what kids picking a career because of the dollars to it. I want them to find what they truly enjoy," she said.
While computer applications classes will not be removed from the curriculum, they will no longer be required for graduation. Asked if this would be a problem with the students' technology skills, Williams pointed out that they would still have the computer in front of them in many classes, including science and language courses.
"We are not saying that computer applications isn't important at all. We're just trying to look at the best utilization of resources," Williams said.
The Greencastle School Board meets regularly at 7:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month at the Miller Education Center.