By Linda Kor
A dramatic drop in enrollment over the past two years has put Joseph City School District officials in the difficult position of having to make cutbacks for the upcoming school year. The district currently has a student population of 420, a reduction of 60 students since 2011. Trying to account for the drop of enrollment has been difficult but Superintendent Dr. Robert Klein believes it has something to do with the economic downturn.
“We’ve been trying to pinpoint the reason, but I really think it’s that families are leaving the area for work elsewhere,” he said.
Fewer students means less money and so far that has meant a loss of state funding in the amount of $438,000 for the district. “This is the first year that we’ve really had to take a look at cost reduction. That loss is 10 percent of our budget,” explained Klein.
The cutbacks include leaving some vacancies due to attrition unfilled, as well as reducing hours for some certified and non-certified staff. That means fewer classes in Automotive and Food Service/Culinary Arts offerings. It also means cuts to the secretarial and food service staff. The lunch program will also be affected, with the removal of the salad bar and hot bar served at Joseph City High School, with only a salad bar and no hot bar items available at Joseph City Elementary School. The pool will also be closed a month earlier in September and the Reading Is Fundamental program will be discontinued.
The district will no longer allow summer contracts for bus drivers and overtime throughout the district will no longer be approved, with the exception of minimal overtime for bus drivers on school trips or for emergency maintenance. Services that were previously provided for employees will also be cut. Bus drivers will now have to pay for their own physicals and certifications, and staff will pay for their own certifications and fingerprint clearance cards.
The district’s governing board approved the cuts April 23 and at that time also approved salary schedules, which will remain the same as they are this year with the exception of a $3,500 stipend for the Special Education director.
In other business, the board approved the purchase of a vehicle for staff travel with funds provided by the Arizona Department of Education this year and the previous year in the amount of approximately $19,000. In addition, approval was given for the purchase of a mini van to transport students enrolled in the Northern Arizona Vocation Institute of Technology program. The funds for that vehicle will come from funds provided through NAVIT.
The board also:
* Accepted the resignations of teacher Darcy Combs, who will be returning with ESI for fiscal year 2014; and teachers Jeri Edwards, Gabriel Nava, Stefani Sadler and Kathy Williams.
* Approved the retirements of Sandra Lewis, custodian; and Steve Marquez, teacher.
* Approved the appointment of substitute custodians Lorentia Franklin and Theresa VanHemert; and lifeguards Krista Edwards, Katelyn Pugh, Daniel Hutchens, Britney Smith, Sharon Larsen, Kobe Smith, Conner Neal, Colton Spurlock, Yarrow Peters and Jayden Turley.
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By Linda Kor