School board in discussions to cut $2.5 million

Hazel Flock, Layout Editor

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On Dec. 13, the school board began examining the budget cuts within the district that needed to happen. The school is budgeting around a $2.5 million deficit and they approved $1.081 million worth of cuts as of Jan. 11.

The board originally proposed $1.523 million in reductions, however after the second meeting, items were removed. The board battled issues with what to cut including their own budget. Final revisions have been put off until later this month.

The school board made cuts to professional development, supply budgets and increased fees and charges for sites such as FeePay. While some of these decisions were unpopular, the board listened to the people and adjusted their budget after input on their recommendation.

I believe the priority of each of the board members to as much as possible is to distance the cuts from the students.”

— Mike Burns

“During their discussion, board members decided to remove several items from the recommended list…The board debated additional reduction options to be considered in the coming months,” read a message from the school board website.

While deciding on which programs to cut, removing YCAPP (Youth and Community Accountability and Prevention Program) and the ALC (Alternative Learning Center) were originally considered, however despite saving roughly $400,000, the board voted to keep the programs running.

“I believe the priority of each of the board members to as much as possible is to distance the cuts from the students,” school board Director Mike Burns said.

Facing criticism is not new to the school board members . The board has dealt with  backlash from students and parents alike due to the levy from 2015 still being so new and the BOLD decision. Many students were glad to see the ALC being saved.

“Even though it costs so much money, these programs help the students, and that’s what school is all about,” senior Laney Koontz said.

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  • Slideshow detailing plans for budget cuts and deficits displayed at the meeting.

    Photo by Paige Sanders

  • The school board meeting in session, while people of Stillwater watch.

    Photo by Paige Sanders

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After YCAPP was saved from the second draft of budget cuts, many students were upset. However, George Hoeppner, who served on the board until Dec. 20, 2018, felt differently.

“Either you send them home to kind of do what they want, which they have not found to be effective or you have in school suspension. Cost savings would have been if you stopped YCAPP you wouldn’t have to pay the employee who is in charge of them. But if you keep them at the high school and you have an employee, you’re still going to have to pay somebody to be in charge of those kids,” Hoeppner said.

The board will hold meetings throughout Jan. to finalize plans and decide what budgets need to be adjusted in order to save money. Board meetings are held on most Thursdays and can be attended by anyone or viewed online.

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