The Cherokee School Board reduced positions in order to cut about $205,000 from the annual budget.
At the Monday evening meeting, the school board approved recommendations from the administrative team as presented by John Chalstrom, superintendent.
The staff reductions coincide with approval of a staff and benefit package that will increase costs to the district of 3.574 percent. The base salary has increased by $1,000 to $26,150. Fortunately and unexpectedly, there has been no increase in the cost of health insurance for the district this year.
Chalstrom noted that for many years most of the increase in employee compensation has been eaten up by the increased cost of health insurance. The health benefit for employees has declined over the years as the cost for insurance has repeatedly been subject to double-digit percentage increases.
As well as the increase in health insurance costs, the school district has faced declining enrollment over and extended period including a decline of 37 students for the present school year.
Chalstrom explained that enrollment determines funding for the district. The per-pupil amount for the general operating budget is decided by state formula as a combination of local property tax and state aid.
Part of the loss of funding from the previous year through loss of enrollment can be made up through a budget guarantee (totally local property tax). This used to be called a 100 percent guarantee but this is being phased out and can only raise 70 percent of the loss from this year for the next year.
The almost $205,000 in cuts comes from early retirements of teachers at the top of the salary scale ($88,656), middle school reductions and adjustment ($37,000), and high school reductions ($79,000).
The elementary school is affected by the reductions also because one of the early retirements involves a fourth grade teacher to be replaced through an involuntary transfer of the elementary technology teacher. The elementary technology teacher position is being eliminated.
The part-time middle school family and consumer science (home economics) is being eliminated as a separate position with the high school family and consumer science teacher becoming a shared position with the middle school.
The vocational agriculture program is being eliminated. The teacher who taught vocational agriculture also taught physical education. These physical education courses will be absorbed by other staff members.
There is a reduction of one secretarial position.
There is a savings for an interpreter for a deaf student because the student moved from the district.