Members of the Harlan Independent Board of Education approved a list of recommended cuts to close the funding gap at a special called meeting on Tuesday. Reductions totalling approximately $260,000 in savings were made during that meeting.
Superintendent David Johnson proposed numerous cuts, including the removal of four full time and three part-time teaching positions.
Reductions approved at the elementary school included: one full time teaching position, one instructional assistant and one secretarial position.
At the middle/high school, two full-time teaching positions and three part-time teaching positions were cut.
“One thing I’d like to point out is that if you look at the elementary allocation, you don’t see an allocation for a counselor, that doesn’t mean there will not be a counselor,” said Johnson. “That counselor is shared between the elementary and middle school. Because of that, it’s an itinerant position and isn’t included in allocations.”
Johnson said the same is true for two teaching positions, which are shared between the schools, because they are district positions.
Reductions in district positions included: one full-time teaching position, one instructor position and one instructional assistant.
“The full-time teaching position — we’re looking at a decline in our IDEA program, so we’re looking at that and being able to share a position between schools,” said Johnson. “The instructor position is our E-school position and the instructional assistant is our library assistant position. These are district positions either funded by the district or shared between schools.”
A list of extra curriculum positions cut included: assistant coach positions for those teams which have more than one assistant, which includes high school football, seventh and eighth grade football and high school girls and boys basketball. Coaches for boys and girls cross country and golf were combined.
“These allocations are what we will work from, but as funding becomes available throughout the remainder of the spring and summer, the board still has the opportunity to go back and return positions,” said Johnson.
Board member Kat Stacy asked if these cuts will affect classroom size.
“In some instances it would,” said Johnson. “Not in all situations. One of the things we are looking at in the middle/high school is we’re considering our scheduling and our graduation requirements, which we think can be updated. In doing that it may relieve some of that. If enrollment remains as it is, and we cut the teaching positions, then yes, in some instances you will have larger class sizes.”
The recommended class size limits for kindergarten to third-grade is 24 students, fourth-grade is 28, fifth and sixth-grades are 29, seventh to 12th-grades are 31. Johnson said the Harlan Independent School System is well below those limits. He did say in some classes at the middle/high school level there are some that are “close to the limit,” as well as some that are “well below the limit.”
“I think these reductions in the elementary school will have a minimal effect on class size,” said Johnson. “The projected enrollment for kindergarten will be lower next year. If that holds up, that’s probably where the reduction will be. So, you wouldn’t need the extra position there. I’m hopeful in doing this we’ll be able to come back, even before I leave, and be able to restore some positions.”
Johnson said the board will meet at the end of May with a tentative budget and at that point they will know if any further cuts are needed.
“We’ll probably be looking at some specific programs and some other things within the next few weeks that could be cut,” said Johnson.
In other board actions:
*Approved use of capital outlay funds, in the amount of $50,000, to cover some expenses in insurance and/or maintenance costs for the year, and use of funds committed for future construction, in the same $50,000 amount, to then replace that money to be paid for work to be done on the football fieldhouse;
*Approved a bus use request from Camp Blanton on June 10-13, July 1-4, July 8-11.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org.