Latest School District budget could spare arts, music programs

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – For the second budget workshop in a row, the Indian River County School Board has heard that the district’s arts and music programs at elementary schools could be spared – if the teachers’ union cooperates.

Last week, the district’s staff presented three proposed agreements with the Indian River County Education Association that could save $3 million. This week, one of those agreements was taken off the table.  

That agreement – the “Workday and Workyear” agreement – would have saved $753,000 by having teachers plan their workday outside of class time.

“We are withdrawing that,” Deputy Superintendent Michael Degutis told the School Board Tuesday morning.

Given the other two proposed agreements, Degutis said there would be no need to move forward with the planning agreement.

If the IRCEA were to approve the remaining agreements, the School District would be able to keep the teachers who provide arts and music instruction at the elementary schools.

Other cuts to the budget – as currently proposed – would leave the district’s budget with just under a $10,000 shortfall.

Chief Financial Officer Carter Morrison told the board that the $9,257 shortfall could be absorbed easily.

Under one of the agreements, teachers at Title I elementary schools would see their “bonus” for teaching at such a school drop from $2,354 to $600.

“Teachers will still get something,” Morrison said.

School Board member Claudia Jimenez supported the proposed agreement.

“I think for the School District to create this sense of entitlement and subsidy is not a healthy thing because when times are tough, we can’t continue to spend dollars that way,” she said of providing extra funding to Title I teachers above what is required.

Added to the discussion Tuesday was the need for athletic directors and their assistants at Vero Beach and Sebastian River high schools.

Jimenez questioned the district’s priorities in cutting reading coaches but keeping the athletic directors.

She said she has concerns about reading gaps at the middle and high school levels.

The board discussed the possibility of cutting back the athletic directors’ responsibilities and making them part-time positions.

“If people really believe in those (athletic) programs being beneficial to children, we’re going to have to get creative in how we’re able to fund those,” School Board member Carol Johnson said. “We have got to set the priorities.”

The two athletic director positions equate to not quite $200,000, some of which is covered through the schools’ internal funding accounts.

“There are things that can be looked at,” La Cava said, addressing the issue of the athletic directors’ impact to the district budget.

The School Board also discussed the possibility of cutting its travel budget, salary and executive assistant as well as eliminating the deputy superintendent’s position.

Trimming the travel budget by a third, eliminating the deputy superintendent post and cutting the executive assistant from full time to part time would save the district nearly $160,000.

Doing so, would help offset the cost of the first and third grade trips to the Environmental Learning Center and other items currently on the chopping block.

More discussion on those issues, as well as other suggestions raised during the workshop are expected to be included in what the district hopes to be the last budget workshop.

That workshop is set for May 3. On May 10, the School Board could vote on approving the budget.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment