SOUTH BEND — Teacher layoffs and a reduction in the number of days worked by administrators are among the options being discussed as South Bend schools wrestle with budget cuts that could amount to nearly $10 million in the next two years.Jay Caponigro and John Stancati, members of the school board’s three-member budget committee, had an open meeting with Superintendent Carole Schmidt and Bob Orlowski, executive director of administrative services, at the district’s central office building Thursday morning.
The cuts are necessary because of several factors, including an enrollment loss of more than 600 this school year.
Many of those departing students went to private schools via the state’s new voucher program, one of several neighboring school districts that have opened their doors to outside students on a tuition-free basis or a new charter school in town.
In January, Schmidt said, scheduling for next school year — using the school corporation’s new student management system — will begin.
That process ultimately will determine class sizes and the number and placement of certified staff, she said.
It’s projected that about 50 teachers will announce they are retiring after this school year.
Caponigro said the number of retiring teachers will offset the number of teachers that would potentially have to be laid off.
Schmidt said she either has met or will soon do so with employees and union representatives of employees whose contract days or positions could be cut.
“That’s the practice I follow when reducing staff,” she said.
During past budget discussions, the idea to reduce custodial staff at each building has also come up. That would save some $50,000 per position, Orlowski has said.
Looking at areas outside of staffing, the school corporation’s contract for copier service expires at the end of June.
“We have an opportunity to realize some savings,” Orlowski said.
If the corporation signs a five-year agreement with its current provider, it could save $437,000 over the next five years.
The idea of closing a school has also come up at past budget committee meetings.
Schmidt reiterated Thursday that that issue won’t be pursued until after the district-wide facilities study is complete and after the board has given its direction on redistricting.
“It’s been 10 years (since it’s been done),” Schmidt said, “and there have been some significant changes in population.”
After Thursday’s meeting, Schmidt was asked about replacing John Strauss, the district’s executive director for facilities management, who recently announced he’s retiring at the end of June.
Since the corporation is not in the midst of a building phase, she said, his department may be reorganized and his position may not be filled.
According to The Tribune’s Public Payroll database, available online at www.southbendtribune.com/publicpayroll, leaving Strauss’ position unfilled would save the school corporation some $107,000 in salary annually.