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.