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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cuts at South Putnam result in nine terminations by Oct. 28

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From the 2010-11 school year, enrollment has dropped by 66 students at the South Putnam School Corporation, Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said.

That will cause the school to lose about $450,000 in state funding this year. As a result, the corporation chose to plan ahead by reducing the amount of total jobs, as well as reducing some positions from full time to part time.

In total nine corporation employees will no longer be employed at the corporation beginning on Oct. 28. Of these nine, six were full-time aides, two were part-time aides and one was a custodian. Another 11 employees, all aides, will be reduced from full-time to part-time positions.

Bernhardt said these moves had to be done because he felt that, with the two largest parts of the general fund consisting of utility costs and employee salaries and benefits, the best way to quickly reduce budget expenses was to go this route.

"It truly breaks my heart that I have to look at them and tell them this will affect your job," Bernhardt said of the moves.

The board approved the measure 3-1 with board member Steve Cash voting against the measure because he wanted the termination date to be at the end of the school semester instead of so soon.

Several of the affected employees attended the board meeting to voice their concerns and feelings about the move. Elizabeth Laney, Lisa Mendenhall and Nellie Hayes, all aides from South Putnam High School, were especially vocal about their opinions.

"This has made us awfully sick," Mendenhall said. "We're sick of it."

Many of these aides have worked for many years in the corporation, with Mendenhall herself being part of the corporation since 1977. She is sad to no longer be able to work, but she appreciates what the corporation has done for her and her family over the years.

"South Putnam has treated my family well," Mendenhall said.

Bernhardt said the school will also find ways to cut down on utility costs in the next few months, and at the end of the school year, the board and Bernhardt will examine the budget and determine whether any other drastic changes are necessary.

Bernhardt said he could not rule out the possibility of more cuts needing to happen. He also mentioned the idea, which he had not formally discussed with the board, that one of the three elementary school buildings could be shut down to save money.

The board was also forced to pay for repairs to the Reelsville Elementary boiler as it broke down recently. The board approved the approximately $18,000 in repair costs.

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Correction it was not Mendenhall talking it was Ms. Hayes and they will all be sadly missed by the kids and parents who need them there. There goes 'No Child Left Behind' out the window... Two secretaries each at Reelsville and Central, yet Fillmore only has one, and they were not cut to one but we will take from the kids! Who made those decisions? Kinda sad that kids who need help won't have it and our Teachers are being graded on raises on how their students learn and now they have less help where it's truly needed

-- Posted by Bullwinkle1986 on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 7:03 AM

It seems to me...cutting the lowest paid employees isn't really going to save that much money. Now if you really want to save money...start cutting a portion of the administrators salaries. THAT'S WHERE ALL THE MONEY IS GOING! Try cutting in other areas...like sports as well...and make cutting employees a last resort. There's so much waste it's ridiculous. There are ways to save money without taking jobs away from people. If they would have eliminated one administrator position....they could have saved all the other jobs.

-- Posted by Countryguy on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 12:10 PM

I have called twice on two different occasions to see if they are accepting new students. I do not reside in SP district, but due to changes in tuition law by Mitch Daniels allows people with a choice. I am a former student and graduate of SP and live within 3/4 of a mile of SP school district line. While attending I had lots of great teachers, staff members, and memories. Wanted to offer my child the same opportunities and experience. First call to superintendent office was told no.They along with all county schools had band together and decided not to accept new students outside there districts. Second call to SPHS office spoke to admin staff and was told someone would call back, you guessed no return call. So in closing if they allowed students to transfer in there enrollment might not have dropped and 9 people's jobs saved.

-- Posted by Big Daddy 43 on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 12:55 PM

@ Bullwinkle1986. There have been changes made to the secretaries at both Reelsville and Central that you are obviously unaware of.Please make sure you have your facts straight before you condemn these situations.

-- Posted by GC_Friend on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 1:38 PM

Good luck to Mr. Bernhardt and the SP Board of Education! What an awful task. Folks, we need to sit back and address this issue with the legislature and the governor. Our local people are doing the best they can with the cards they are dealt. It is true .... these (the ones being cut or reduced) are the people who make the differences in some kids' lives.

-- Posted by cvilleguy on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 1:53 PM

I am frustrated and saddened by this news. Why do the kids always have to compromise and adjust for the actions of the adults entrusted to educate them?

It is also frustrating that South does not participate in the Putnam County RISE Program. We could be saving money right now! Want to cut money on the electric bill? PARTICIPATE before all the funds are gone! This should have been done over a year ago.

Want an immediate solution? Start by closing the administration building and moving those employees into Central. It was good enough for Greencastle to do, why not us? Then make up a committee of teachers, parents, and community members to research some cost saving options for the corporation. But don't waist our time unless you are willing to follow through on some of the ideas.


Also, Big Daddy, I heard the reading of the change to the transfer student policy and I believe they do allow them. The policy use to only apply to teachers/staff children, but the board reworded the policy to include any transfer student. They said they did this to allow for growth because we have been losing students for a number of years. I would not believe what people have told you, not even what I have said. If I were you, I would go into the corporation office and ask to see the transfer policy for yourself. That way you will know for sure.

-- Posted by Hairy Tiger on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 2:02 PM

What about the Super, principal and vice principal salaries? I know they make between $60,000 and $100,000 each. Are they really worth that? I think if the corporation was really worried about cutting jobs, they might consider lowering their salaries to keep these much-needed aides!

-- Posted by oldcougar on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 2:02 PM

I heard the receptionist at the elementaries were cut in hours buy not job loss. I am sorry but when one elementary has one secretary then why do the other two schools need two? II have my facts more straight than you could know. Also close the admin office and take a reduction in the superintendents pay would be a great reduction. They want to cut other places they also need to take a hit within themselves. It disappoints me that jobs are being cut where needed and can be moved. So I suggest take those two receptionist And move them to the aides at the high school to help those kids then they an keep their jobs and help the kids at the same time.

-- Posted by Bullwinkle1986 on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 4:05 PM

Everyone seems to have answers and complaints. I'm pretty sure there are meetings that you all can attend...the problem is it is really easy to sit at a computer and rant....rather than show up at meetings and give helpful incite.

-- Posted by J_Mason on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 11:20 AM

If Central Elementary has room for the Superintendent and his staff, it seems to be a good economic solution. I always wondered why they were located on 231.

To J_Mason...You used to have to be "on the agenda" to speak at a school board meeting and I assume that is still the case. It would be worth it to get on the agenda if good ideas for saving money were given. Has anyone ever looked at what it costs to operate and maintain the Supt. Office? Just curious.

-- Posted by Mom2U4Now on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 12:37 PM

everyone has mentioned good ideas. you are not going to get anyone to listen unless you make some noise and demand change. change also means people are not going to like it. so people are going to half to suck it up and do what is best for the students and the school system. there are things that should have been done in the past, but no one wanted change. who suffers? our kids suffer! seems to me the schools need to tighten their belt just like the rest of are having to do. it can be done, you just have to be willing to give up some things. that goes for teachers, administrators, and parents.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 3:28 PM

Whjy doesn't Putman County have one Super? Marion County with many many more schools and students only has one.

-- Posted by Hazel on Fri, Oct 21, 2011, at 6:49 AM

Hazel, you are a smart person! None of the superintendent would ever make a move to put themselves out of a job. And, I don't know if any of the school boards are strong enough to pull this move off.

-- Posted by Hairy Tiger on Fri, Oct 21, 2011, at 11:06 AM

Very disturbing! Kids do not learn when you shove 30+ kids into a class room! Im directly impacted by this article and it sounds like we could make reasonable financial changes that would still save the thought of closing an elementary school. Im sorry but school consolidation for all county schools and year around school I believe would maybe not completely solve the problem but help every schools financial situation.

-- Posted by smartmom on Mon, Oct 24, 2011, at 10:57 AM

Not sure how year round school would solve any problems. You still have to pay staff, buses, utilities, etc... . The simple solution is to group your resources together. 1 less elementary means there is money for our children to have aides in the classroom. You could still employ the same number of teachers so class sizes do not increase. You save by having 1 less Principal, janitors, cooking staff, less utilities, fewer bus routes. Parents need to decide if they want 3 elementaries with less aides to help their children or if they want their kids to get a good education.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Mon, Oct 24, 2011, at 1:53 PM

Hazel, I think you're thinking of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). Marion County actually has 29 superintendents.

-- Posted by Wire on Wed, Oct 26, 2011, at 9:33 AM

@ Big Daddy...The policy you are referring to allows schools to accept students at no cost until count day. After that, a school can charge tuition when accepting an out of district student. Bottom line is, school corporations do not have to accept out of district students.

-- Posted by kbmom on Fri, Oct 28, 2011, at 6:29 AM

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