By Kerry Drager, Correspondent
The Swanville School Board prepared to make cuts during its March meeting. The district is looking to put four teachers on unrequested leave of absence as it begins to tighten spending and try to pull out of Statutory Operating Debt (SOD).
The proposed staff cuts include the high school special education teacher Adam Gerads, social studies teacher Pam Czech, physical education teacher Sharon Pesta and shop teacher Gerry Bahe. The cuts have not yet been finalized as there may be a need to keep a special education teacher if student numbers remain high. If a high school special education teacher is needed next year, the Board will look at placing another staff member on unrequested leave of absence.
An hour-long shop course will be cut from the high school electives but the district is trying to keep as many options available to the high school as financially possible. Physical education for the ninth grade is currently a school requirement, but the state does not require this course so this may also face being cut. Core classes are being reorganized, combined and shortened to handle the shortage of staff. A finalized plan for cuts will occur in the next few months.
“We are shifting some core classes to run together but we are trying to keep as many electives as possible,” said Supt. Gene Harthan. “We hope that when things get better, we’ll be able to bring these classes back.”
Tommy Beseman came before the Board with the suggestion that a booster club be established to help keep the district’s sports teams from feeling the brunt of the budget cuts. Other local areas already have similar booster clubs in place and have been successful in helping teams obtain the funds they need, he said.
“Sporting is one of the first things that get nixed. This isn’t school affiliated at all but it’s like the Letter Club,” said Beseman. “We set up fund-raising events throughout the year, and I feel that there are enough young people in our community that would be willing to help us out with this. There is money to be made but it takes someone to push for it and organize it.”
More information about the booster club, including an example of by-laws that are in place in other districts, will be presented to the Board at a later meeting. The Board expressed interest in the possibility of moving forward with a booster club.
Swanville School Board briefs
Other business conducted by the Swanville School Board included:
• Approving English teacher Kathy Detloff’s requested retirement, as well as her request to direct the fall play next year;
• Learning that Marie Francis will be teaching clay and pottery class in the elementary next year;
• Approving the proposed 2014-2015 school calendar; and
• Approving the purchase of new chairs for sporting events. The money is being raised by fundraisers and is almost at the $2,000 goal, but the chairs need to be purchased now to be ready in time for volleyball season.
The next regularly scheduled Swanville School Board meeting is Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.