Graham schools announces budget, staff cuts after levy fails

Graham Local Schools has announced they will be cutting five full-time positions, eliminating high school busing and adding fees for some courses as a result of a levy failure, according to district officials.

Personnel changes will be effective Aug. 1 and all other cuts will be effective by the start of the 2019-2020 school year, according to a press release sent out by district officials,.

“The board is committed to protecting Graham’s academic environment, but cuts must be made at this time,” the release says.

Cuts are a result of the fourth failure of a 1 percent additional earned income tax levy that would have helped raise 2 million for the district. Voters rejected the levy by 394 votes on May 7.

MORE: Champaign County voters reject Graham schools income tax increase for fourth time

“Graham’s Board of Education would like to thank parents, staff, volunteers and community partners for their dedication to the district,” the press release said. “However, the result of May’s levy requires serious financial evaluation of the current staffing, programs and services that can be provided.”

Personnel changes within the district will include the following cuts: one full-time nurse position, one full-time tech support position, one full-time building secretary, one literacy coach position at GES and one part-time administrative assistant at the District Support Center.

Graham Local Schools Board of Education President Ryan Pine said he believes those who will be losing their jobs with the district are aware of the changes, but he isn’t sure.

“I’m not sure. I would assume so,” Pine said. “But I really don’t know.”

In addition to personnel reductions, the district will also cut all funding to high school transportation.

“All high school busing will be eliminated for 2019-2020. Graham’s operations staff will share out information on route changes and maps that would be different from current routes in June,” the release said.

The board also stated in the release that they decided not to proceed with cutting all bus routes for students within a two-mile radius of the school.

“Graham will continue to bus students living within a two-mile radius to school at group-pick up locations,” the release said. “Two additional bus routes will be reduced for 2019-2020.”

In regards to raising student fees, the release states that the board is, “sensitive to the needs of the community,” and has decided there will be no blanket fee increase imposed for 2019, as well as no fee increase to preschool or pay to participate fees.

However, there will be categorical fee increases for students. Elective course and courses with lab environments will receive higher fees, according to the release, although it is unclear at this time how much those fees will be.

Pine said the amount for eliminating high school busing is approximately $125,00. The district needs to make $600,000 in total reductions to maintain financial stability.

“Every position within our district is important but unfortunately we are in a spot right now where we have to make these tough decisions,” Pine said. “When we decided to make a basic system of cuts, we had to make some tough decisions.”

On top of budget cuts and staff layoffs, the district has also been tasked with filling superintendent Kirk Koennecke’s position.

MORE: Graham Local Schools seek to hire new superintendent in June

Koennecke announced last week that he will leave the district in July for a superintendent position at Indian Hill Exempted School District, a district located in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Koennecke has been with the district for the last three years.

Pine said previously that the timeline is tight, but that the Board hopes to hire a candidate sometime in June.

Despite cuts to the district and the search for a new superintendent, the school board still plans on finding time to discuss a fifth levy for the upcoming November election.

“The Board will examine a future levy issue in the coming months and communicate plans in early summer,” the release said. “The Board will continue to reach out, seek feedback and urge participation to address the ongoing financial needs of the district.”

Graham Local Schools cuts effective at the start of the 2019-2020 school year:

• Reduction of one full-time nurse position

• Reduction of one full-time tech support position

• Reduction of one full-time building secretary

• Reduction of one literacy coach position at Graham

• Reduction of one part-time administrative assistant at the Director Support Center

• All high school busing will be eliminated

Source: Graham Local Schools Board of Education

The Springfield News-Sun has provided continued coverage of Graham Local Schools over the last month leading up to the May 7th election, in which the district tried for a fourth time to pass a 1 percent additional earned income tax levy

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