Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 20, 2014

Piecing together Taylor's puzzle

Board takes action to address budget shortfalls

By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Without much ado, the Taylor Community School Corp. board of education unanimously voted to cut about 6 percent of the district’s general fund Wednesday.

There was no public comment and minimal board discussion as board members supported a proposal to reduce spending by $541,000 going into the 2014-15 school year. Declining student enrollment combined with decreased revenue from property taxes spurred Taylor’s need to reduce expenses.

Originally, the proposal called for $584,000 worth of reductions, including the elimination of one school nurse position. Superintendent Chris Smith changed the recommendation to maintain the corporation’s two school nurse positions.

“We feel the need for nurses in our district is extremely important,” Smith said, noting that having more grades in the primary building will require a nurse there.

The restructure plan includes:

• Partially closing Taylor Intermediate School for a savings of about $20,000 on utilities. The fourth and fifth graders currently housed there will move to Taylor Primary School, and the alternative school will occupy part of the intermediate building.

• Charging the school lunch program, which operates independently, for use of facilities and utilities for an additional $50,000.

• Eliminating the “new tech” logo for Taylor High School for a savings of about $39,000.

• Eliminating the preschool program offered by the corporation and rewriting the Title 1 grant so preschool classrooms would be funded with federal dollars to save $36,000.

• Reducing staff positions, including making the primary principal position part time and cutting an elementary teacher, special education teacher, two high school teachers and an English as a Second Language teacher for a total savings of $218,000.

• Reducing classified staff positions such as aides, secretaries, and accounts payable clerk for a total savings of $178,000.

“This has been a difficult situation to work through,” said Smith, who thanked stakeholders for their input and commended interim superintendent Robert Foreman for leaving recommendations on how to reduce costs.

Board president Dennis Marler clarified that while the proposal cut Taylor’s preschool program, the corporation still will offer preschool next year with the support of federal dollars. Taylor Primary principal Teri Stokes said she is confident preschool will be covered in the corporation’s federal Title I grant for next school year.

Also at the meeting, the board supported a resolution stating its opposition to eliminating the business personal property tax and discussed accepting a state waiver for canceling school on March 12, when the corporation lost power.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 16 in the high school library.

Education reporter Lauren Fitch can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at lauren.fitch@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LaurenBFitch.