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Grant County Schools reinstated four teaching positions eliminated in May because of budget constraints.
The school board approved a tentative budget at the time that cut nine teaching positions from the middle and high school and one from an elementary school.
The cuts were needed as the district faced a $1.8 million budget deficit.
One teacher each from the middle and high school, along with two Title I positions, were reinstated before the 2009-10 school year, said Superintendent Michael Hibbett.
“We only get so much money and we can only spend so much money. That’s really the simplicity of it,” he said. “All the money needs to be geared toward classroom instruction. We start in the classroom and work our way out. Well, you say, ‘Why did you cut 10 teachers?’ Because those were extra teachers. When we have extra money we spend it on instruction and extra teachers are hired. When we have limited amount of money, personnel is always the biggest cost.”
Eagle Creek Learning Center has the same number of staff, but two teachers who the district had “in surplus” were moved over there, Hibbett said.
One teacher formerly at Eagle Creek took a vacant job at Mason-Corinth Elementary while the other teacher who was laid off was not brought back.
Eagle Creek’s staff includes one special education teacher, two classroom teachers, a guidance counselor, a principal and two aides.
Although eliminating several school nurses was discussed, the district ultimately brought back all six of its nurses back.
Hibbett said he is looking at filing for Medicaid funding to help pay for the nurses in the future.
“I think that (funding) should be in the SEEK formula,” he said. “The reality is that every school should have an opportunity to have a nurse because there’s just so much more demand for it. It’s all local money that pays for that. It makes it tough when you have to pick between teachers and nurses.”
Another way the district saved money included reducing hours for teacher and bus aides from seven and a half to six hours a day.
Hibbett said bus schedules also were altered to coincide with the loss of hours for the aides in order to make routes quicker.
The shorter routes also saved money on fuel for buses.
The district also cut costs by deciding to mop and buff the floors at the schools instead of having them waxed.
Although some positions were sparred, Hibbett said the outlook does not appear to be any better and more cuts are likely in the future.
“Last year, we really planned for a three-year budget on how we were going to try to take care of (the deficit,)” he said. “We’re not looking for the economy to get better as far as the school business goes. We’re looking at sustaining the cuts we made this year and probably coming up with more cuts for the 2010-11 year. Our goal is to not go back and hit things we’ve already hit though. I can’t really cut anymore teachers because we went back to cap size. So, we have to find other ways to make it work, which we’ll do.”