Cache County School District handles budget cuts

The Cache County School District will receive 334 more kids to the education system next year, though no staff will be hired to handle the influx due to budget cuts. This means the student-to-teacher ratio will increase by 1.25 students. While no new teachers will be hired, Superintendent Steven Norton said no one in the district has lost their job so far because of budget cuts. During a Cache County School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday, board members discussed ways to come up with budget shortcomings, such as furlough days for employees and transportation cuts. Board member Tamara Grange said, “Principals, you’re going to have some really hard decisions of your own to make. I know that you’ll do well at it. Things are tight, but we’re going to be OK.”The board decided on using the school district’s undistributed reserves as a one-time help to make up for shortages in the budget. However, using this money this year means the same fund will not be available next year, should economy and budget matters get worse. Administrators find difficulties in balancing budgets because certain money is earmarked or specified for certain programs. This money can’t be moved to make up for a shortcoming in another area of the budget. Dale Hansen, business administrator, said last year state law allowed district administrators to “dip in to restricted programs that had (cash) overflows to make up for budget shorts.” The law has since changed, and Hansen said the district lost a lot of flexibility in trying to make mid-year budget adjustments. Norton said even if administration still had last year’s flexibility, there is simply no overflow to take from this time around. Furlough days were discussed as a way to solve budget woes. Hansen said state law allows the district to require its employees to take up to five furlough days. The teachers will not be working on those days, nor will they be paid for those days. While furlough days may help soften tight budgets at present, the government might take notice and cease to fund the schools for those five days in the future.The board decided students in high schools and 8/9 centers across the district will lose one of their after-school bus routes. The 4 p.m. route is being cut in order to save money in the transportation budget, an area that has been particularly hit hard with cuts. The cut would save $44,000 in transportation expenses. The 5:30 p.m. bus will continue to run as usual. The board also discussed splitting the cost of extra-curricular and sporting event transportation costs with the school. The district would pay 80 percent of the cost, the school the other 20 percent. The school would cover this cost by imposing a student fee on those participating in the different activities. The more activities and sports a student is involved with, the more fees they will have to pay. The board discussed making the fee cost $30. However, Mike Liechty, deputy superintendent of secondary education, said he doesn’t think the fee will be high enough to cover the cost.Discussion on the fee and splitting the cost between the district and each school was tabled for further discussion.

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