6/19/08

Teamsters face dues hit from Gary schools

Labor-state school district deals with cost over-runs

Pressed to shave $7 million from the school district budget by July 1, Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Mary Steele-Agee outlined a plan this week to save cash via cuts to security, maintenance, teachers and administrators. "The bottom line is there is a $7 million deficit in the school district as we speak that has to be resolved. We have to balance the budget," Steele-Agee said.

The elementary schools will lose 21 teaching posts, the middle and high schools will lose 8.5. Seventeen teaching posts in the areas of special education, speech, black history, home economics and cooperative education will be slashed.

Four teachers at the now closed Kennedy-King Elementary School will also lose positions under the plan that still needs school board approval.

Teachers have already received layoff slips. Steele-Agee said some positions in other ranks were unfilled and won't affect actual people.

Seven paraprofessionals will be cut, as will nine administrative positions -- the district buyer, property control manager, professional development supervisor, assistant director of the Gary Area Career Center, and five elementary and assistant principals.

Two secretaries, five Teamsters, three general maintenance workers, five high school security posts, 12 elementary school security posts and 12 elementary supervisory aides are also on the chopping block.

"I asked every department to look at the people they supervise and tell me which positions could be cut," Steele-Agee said.

School Board President Nellie Moore said a plan should have been in place for cuts earlier, so the district would not have to rush to make them now.

Steele-Agee said she just learned from the state June 9 how much funding would be lost. The superintendent said she conferred with business manager Alesia Pritchett who told her the district was already operating on "bare bones."

Moore replied "We've known for a long time we'd have to cut the budget."

Still, Moore recommended the cuts be placed on the consent agenda for next week's board meeting. "We have to keep these buildings open and keep them staffed," Moore said.

Incoming 1st District School Board Member Barbara Leek said the board could save money by cutting its own expenses -- which are budgeted at $226,235.

She suggested they reduce board travel. She also said they could save office supply costs by using CD-ROMs rather than paper documents.

(post-trib.com)

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