Classrooms will likely be spared from any reductions to educational opportunities next school year. Unlike recent years, several additions are being proposed.
Jody Monroe, assistant superintendent for Educational Programs, presented the proposed K-12 instructional program budget for next school year during the Bethlehem Central Board of Education meeting Wednesday, March 18. The baseline department budget for 2014-15 would increase spending about $800,000 and totals more than $30.46 million. The overall baseline budget for the district next school year totals $91.72 million.
There are around 400 employees tied to instructional programming, with salaries slated to total almost $28.24 million. There were approximately 100 more department employees seven years, according to Monroe.
Over the last few years the K-12 instruction budget presentation has presented several proposed cuts, said Monroe, but this year there was a more positive outlook.
“We are hoping this year … people will be more pleased of what we are looking at,” Monroe said, “and hopefully we are able to address some of the needs that we have come to experience over the last several years in reductions.”
There were a few proposed reductions in budget tied to enrollment. Bethlehem Central Middle School would have 0.2 full-time equivalent positions cut from English language arts, science and social studies for a savings of $42,720.
There would also another 0.2 FTE reduction from the Chinese foreign language program at the high school, which is tied to the amount of student request. The group of students taking Chinese currently would be able to continue for another year. This represents a savings of more than $14,000.
“At this point we did not get enough students to request an elective in Chinese at the high school,” said Monroe. “We are still looking at that to see if maybe we can partner with other districts to see if we can run that, but right now the numbers don’t look like we are going to be able to.”
First priority additions include adding three elementary teachers across schools based on enrollment needs, which would cost around $210,000. Monroe said this would lead to special areas — arts, music and physical education — needing an overall increase of 0.6 FTE for a total of almost $43,000.
Another first priority addition is adding 4.6 FTE elementary intervention specialists, which would cost $327,500.
“Everyone has really stepped up to provide the intervention that students need, however we’re really limited in staffing,” said Monroe. “One of the areas that’s so important is providing that intervention when kids are young so that they don’t get to a point when they’re in fourth or fifth grade, or middle school and they are really struggling.”
The remaining first priority additions include adding 2.6 FTE across middle and high school technology, and high school math and computer sciences, lab school research, and guidance. These additions would add another $185,000 to the budget.
Monroe proposed several other additions, which add 3.3 FTE overall and help fund some clubs. These other additions would cost almost $240,000.
The net change for instructional programming, with every proposed reduction and addition, would increase the budget by about $950,000.