FWCS outlines $15 million in budget cuts

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Press release from Fort Wayne Community Schools:

FWCS outlines $15 million in budget cuts

(March 23, 2010) – The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees approved $15 million in budget cuts Monday, March 22, including closing Elmhurst High School and Pleasant Center Elementary School, eliminating 91 teaching positions, ending most summer school programs, cutting nine administrative positions and reducing central office expenses by more than $3 million.

The cuts reduced classroom expenses by 5.8 percent while non-classroom expenses, including overhead, operational and facility expenses, were reduced by 15.8 percent.

“We made as many cuts as possible away from the classroom,” Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “We looked at every department, line by line, and made cuts at every level. These were extremely difficult decisions to make, but we had to reduce spending as our revenue from the state declined.”

With the Board’s vote, Elmhurst and Pleasant Center will close in June at the end of the 2009-10 school year. New boundaries have been drawn moving Elmhurst students to Northrop, North Side, South Side and Wayne high schools. Students living within Pleasant Center’s boundaries will be assigned to either Waynedale or Harrison Hill elementary schools. Students attending either Elmhurst or Pleasant Center as part of the District’s school choice program will automatically be reassigned to their neighborhood school. Parents also have the option to request their child be transferred to a different school. The high school lottery was already postponed, and the elementary school lottery scheduled for Friday, March 26, will be postponed as well. Parents with children at Pleasant Center or Elmhurst have until Wednesday, March 31, to submit a transfer application. The lottery for all elementary and high schools will be on Monday, April 12. This week, school administrators will meet with parents affected by the closures to discuss school boundaries, scheduling and transportation.

The central office cuts include eliminating 13 people, four of whom are administrators, as well as cutting other expenses. Health care efficiencies, for instance, will save the district more than $600,000. Another nearly $600,000 will be saved by changing the pay for substitutes. Teacher reductions will be made at each level with 10 teaching positions cut from elementary, 20 cut from middle school and 61 cut from high school. High school has the most reductions because of the change in schedule from four-block to seven periods.

District officials will continue to search for cost-cutting options as another $8 million must be cut from the 2011 budget.

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