The Beatrice Public Schools Board of Education approved all but one item in a six item budget reduction recommendation at its meeting Monday night.
At the meeting, the board again took up the issue of budget reductions for the 2018-2019 school year. The district approved five items that would hold off on purchasing new textbooks, reducing technology spending and not filling several classified and certified positions. The board decided to remove an item that could have moved the district’s Compass Learning Community program to the high school.
Over the past few months, the Beatrice Public Schools administrative team has been looking for possible budget reductions for the 2018-2019 school year. With the state of Nebraska facing a budget shortfall, superintendent Pat Nauroth laid out reductions aimed at cutting $500,000 from the district’s budget.
The reductions include the central office administration restructuring approved in 2017, which would save an estimated $100,000. The district is also holding off on purchasing textbooks for a year which they estimate would save $106,000. The district plans to reduce its technology spending by $50,000.
BPS would also not fill or reduce 5.5 paraprofessional positions for an estimated savings of $95,000 and not filling or reducing one certified elementary position they estimate would save about $80,000. The report said it is possible that all certified and classified staff reductions would occur through attrition.
The board did remove an item that would have moved the Compass program to Beatrice High School. Compass, an alternate learning environment which aims to have students graduate from high school without attending classes at BHS, is currently located across the highway from the high school. The recommendation said that moving Compass into the high school would save the district $47,000 a year.
During a previous discussion the board had with high school principal Jason Sutter, he said moving Compass to the high school could result in losing more students from the program. Students attend Compass for a variety of reasons, and returning them to the traditional high school environment could lower the program’s 50-some percent graduation rate.
“I am not in support of this document with that left in,” said board member Janet Byars. “I'd like to take a little bit more time to see if maybe we want to keep Compass offsite if we could possibly get a cheaper rent than we're getting right now and do a little more research on it.”
Byars said she couldn’t vote for the document as presented and board member Nancy Sedlacek agreed.
Board member Steve Winter said that all of the choices were difficult ones and said he was torn on the issue of Compass and wished there was a way to know what the number of lost students would be.
“I've made it known before that I'm not crazy about moving Compass back to the high school,” Winter said. “I think, considering the savings, I fully understand why Pat put it in there and I don't have a problem with the thought of that.”
Nauroth said the location of Compass was hard to beat, being so close to the high school and allowing easy access for high school administration to visit.
Board members expressed an interest in looking into different locations for Compass that might cost less than the current rent. The lease for the building will be up at the beginning of June, said director of business affairs John Brazell.
Nauroth said the district’s administration would continue to look for other avenues for reduction. The list of reductions with the Compass item removed passed the board unanimously.