The People's Tribune

Clopton Approves Going To Four-Day School Week Next Year

Board Cuts Six Teaching Positions, Staff Hours In Response To Tough Budget Situation With Other Programs Under Review

The Clopton school board approved measures to save money recently that include moving to a four-day week in the next school year, slashing six teaching positions and reductions to hours for non-certified staff.

The board has also agreed to cut non-teaching (professional development) days by five for teachers and reduce benefit packages and insurance.

“Our numbers have dropped and our expenditures have continued to increase,” explained Superintendent Mark Harvey. “We’re battling to balance our budget and not continue to use reserves to do that.”

He said the combination of those things forced the board to take some tough steps.

Letters were sent to parents recently explaining the changes that are on the way for the next school year.

“Education continues to be the priority within the walls of the Pike County R-III (Clopton) Schools,” the letter begins. “The District has continued to maintain small class sizes and to offer many additional opportunities to its student body. The tax base in the district has not rebounded from the economic loss experienced seven years ago. The patrons have been strong in supporting the expected quality of education at Clopton. The members of our school community appreciate the long-standing support of all patrons, families, booster organizations and Clopton alumni.”

The letter continued, “In order for the district to be in the best position for the future, we must adapt to a shrinking student body, become less dependant on our reserves, and gather additional input from stakeholders over the coming year. Adaptation and change are not easily accomplished in a district with such strong academic, curricular and extracurricular traditions. Ultimately, those same traits will enable us to progress through these changes and enhance the learning opportunities available to our students.”

Harvey said there are still a number of decisions that have to be made including how to best shape the four-day week.

“We will be looking to get a lot of input from the community.”

He said school officials have examined how the four-day week works for other districts such as Montgomery, Wellsville, Community and North Calloway. He added the most likely scenario is a Tuesday through Friday schedule with a longer day by about 45-50 minutes each school day.

Harvey admitted there are drawbacks for families but pointed out there are positives as well. He noted the transition will be tough, particularly for families who have a traditional five-day week.

“That will be the most difficult part of implementing this.”

He added that some of the positives will include more time for teaching content and less transition time. Savings in transportation costs should be about 20 percent of what is currently spent.

He said that dates have not been set at this time but the district will host community forums to hear from the public about their suggestions and concerns before hammering out next year’s schedule.

Clopton will continue to have a seven-period day rather than moving to a block-schedule.

The district has opted to cut six teaching positions and will also look to combine some smaller classes to save money. Non-certified staff will also have hours reduced.

“The board looked at this in detail and with a lot of thought,” Harvey remarked.

The district has also decided to place an operating levy transfer initiative on the ballot for the April 3 election.

“The proposed levy transfer will result in no net increase to the total tax levy to the district. We are asking the voters to allow the district to transfer $0.3300 from the debt service fund to the operating fund. This will allow the district to use these monies for educational necessities,” the letter stated.

“The debt service fund is exclusively utilized to repay general obligation bond financings. The proceeds generated from bond issuance are used to pay for large, one-time capital facility expenditures. The district’s operating levy currently is set at $3.9215 while the levy in debt service is $1.0802 ($5.0017 total levy). If the $0.33.. transfer is approved by the voters, the operating ceiling will be $4.2515 and the debt service levy is estimated to be reduced to $0.7502 ($5.0017 total levy). this, in addition to planned cuts and future adaptations, will position the district to better address upcoming years.”

Harvey said that overall the district looks to save about $820,000 or about 10 percent of the total budget through the cost-saving measures.

The cuts and change to schedule will only affect the Clopton school district. The Pike-Lincoln Tech Center will continue to operate with a five-day week.

He noted the district has lost about 30 students but the administration and board will continue to be vigilantly watching the numbers.

Harvey encouraged the community’s involvement in the process.

“They may see things that haven’t been or should be considered,” he remarked.

Harvey said the board is still looking to find savings in other areas as well throughout the district.

He added the district will make every effort to keep the community informed about upcoming meetings and decisions.

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