GREENCASTLE -- About 25 instructional assistants for the Greencastle Community School Corp. will have their work hours cut, effective Jan. 18.
The aides will all be working one less hour per day. The cuts will save the corporation about $90,000 over a 12-month period.
The GCSC Board approved the cuts at its meeting Wednesday as part of an effort to trim a significant amount from the corporation's budget.
On Dec. 31, GCSC superintendent Robert Green received a letter from the Indiana Department of Education stating the district's 2010 tuition support funding allocation would be an estimated $11,664,488.73 -- about $471,000 less than was originally expected.
"This happened as of Jan. 1," Green told the board. "We had no time to get ready and offset it."
Deer Meadow Principal Gwen Morris is a member of a committee working with Green on finding ways to cut the corporation's budget. She said cutting the hours of the aides "was a hard decision."
"They're wonderful people and they do so much for us," she said.
Greencastle Teacher's Association Co-President Nicole Kempf warned the board against making any hasty decisions.
"One hour a day may not seem like a ton, but it is," she said. "The aides are already spread thin."
Board member Kelly Lewis wanted to table until the board's February meeting the measure to cut the hours of the aides.
"It doesn't appear to me that one month would be that big of a savings," he said. "I'm just not in favor of the first cut we make affecting instruction."
"Ten thousand dollars isn't much of a savings compared to a lawsuit if services aren't provided," she said.
Green presented the board with a list of several other cost-cutting suggestions, most of which, if approved, would take effect in August. Those suggestions included:
* Closing the Miller School building.
* Closing Ridpath School.
* Eliminating four part-time teachers.
* Eliminating six full-time teachers.
* Cutting all salaries corporation-wide by 3.5 percent.
* Eliminating all vocational offerings.
* Cutting in some areas of high school sports.
* Eliminating summer school.
* Reducing expenditures for school libraries.
* Eliminating the district newsletter.
* Eliminating middle school sports.
* Freezing teacher step raises.
Green said he didn't like to "be all doom and gloom," but that he wanted to present the facts realistically.
"The financial situation is not looking good," he said. "It's not a very pleasant subject."
Green said the funding that would not be received would have gone into the corporation's general fund -- about 94 percent of which is used to pay personnel.
"When you look at things to cut, it doesn't give you a lot of wiggle room," he said.
Green is working with a committee of about 40 people -- about 40 percent of which are not school employees -- to explore possible budget cuts.
"We certainly don't want to lay off anybody," Green said. "But if there's any fat in the budget, I don't know where it is. These cuts are going to hurt. I don't know what else to say. I've gone through RIF (reduction in force) before. I've seen what it does to people."
Lewis asked what kind of timeline Green was looking at to take more significant budget cut action.
"There's a legal process for laying off teachers," Green said. "I believe we have to give them at least 60 days' notice. We'd probably need to decide what we were doing by March or April at the latest."