Superintendent Robert Green told the Greencastle Community School Corp. Board of Trustees Wednesday night that he had come up with several ideas to make up for the corporation's $471,000 budget shortfall caused by a state cut in the district's 2010 tuition support funding allocation.
"To say these forced budget cuts have been stressful would be a gross understatement," Green said. "I know it's been hard not only on me, but on the employees and on members of the community."
Green said a committee made up of about 40 teachers and parents had worked hard to come up with ways to cut the corporation's already tight budget.
"They had a lot of good ideas," Green said. "Some were practical, some were not practical."
Green noted there were many things that have to be taken into consideration when dealing with school budgets.
"There are teacher contracts and school laws and regulations," he said.
Before Green told the board what cuts he suggested, he announced that he was "hopeful when all is said and done that we won't have to lay off anybody."
"I can't guarantee that, but I'm hopeful," he said.
Green said the only suggestion on his list that required board action was to close Miller School. The building currently houses the district's administrative offices.
A resident who lives next to Miller School expressed concern that it would not be well-maintained if it were vacant, and that it might end up attracting vandals or vagrants.
Green assured her that the grass would be maintained and the building's doors and windows would be secured.
Green said the people who now work in the Miller building would be moved to other schools in the district. He said tentative transition plans were already in place, and that he was meeting with staff at Ridpath Elementary Thursday to discuss them.
"There will be no closings or changes at Ridpath," Green said.
The board voted unanimously to close the school this summer. The closure will save the corporation $100,000 a year.
Other changes that will take place include:
* A teacher at Greencastle Middle School is retiring, and the position will not be filled.
* The school will no longer have a newsletter published on paper. Instead, it will be available online.
* A full-time custodian is retiring, and when the position is filled again it will become part-time.
* Staff development funding will be cut by $2,500.
* A secretarial position in the high school will be cut.
* All employees will be required to have their wages direct deposited into bank accounts.
* Funding for Northwest Educational Testing will now be taken from the technology fund rather than the general fund.
* Schools will continue energy savings measures. In addition, any events that can be held in venues smaller than the McAnally Center will be.
"McAnally Center is a huge energy hog," Green said.
* Adjustments will likely be made in the corporation's employees' insurance.
"These are some good measures," Green said. "We probably won't cut the whole amount we need to this year, so we'll have to use money from the rainy day fund and the cash balance from the general fund. But we're not done yet. We're going to continue working on this."
Although the budget cutting process has been difficult, Green said that particular cloud had turned out to have something of a silver lining.
"I've come to realize that we have a lot of people who care about their schools and care about the education of our children," he said.