Budget cuts can often bring controversy and stir up emotions, but a proposed package of $3.3-4.1 million in spending reductions that will eliminate approximately 38 positions over the next two years won easy approval at a meeting of the Parkway School Board Wednesday night.
The cuts include the loss of three full-time positions at each of the major high schools, a reduction in school budgets by five percent and dropper the summer school program from four weeks to three. Superintendent Keith Marty has previously said that the majority of jobs will be eliminated through attrition rather than layoffs.
No residents used the “public comment” of the meeting to speak about the proposed cuts and it was passed by a unanimous vote following a short presentation from the district’s CFO. School Board President Beth Feldman said the issue had been largely without controversy.
“I have not received one phone call, letter or email this go-around from anyone arguing with us about the cuts that were proposed,” she said.
Feldman said this differed from last year, when a larger number of cuts totaling $8 million met with initial concern from some district stakeholders and was modifying before being passed.
She credited a well thought-out process that kept the cuts “as far away from kids as possible” with helping keep debate down, along with an extensive effort by the district to educate and gather feedback from parents and staff.
The district held four separate public meetings to present the budget proposal to citizens in the district and solicit comments in addition to presenting it multiple times at regular meetings.
“It gave everyone in the community an opportunity to learn what the cuts were and how envisioned them affecting the schools,” she said.
The cuts represent only 1-2 percent of the district’s overall budget and are designed to close a deficit gap between expenses and revenues while restoring the district’s depleted fund reserves over the next five years.