Editor's note: This is the second of two stories looking at budget cuts for Plymouth County schools.
Plymouth County school districts are trying to figure out ways to reduce already lean budgets.
Because Legislators haven't decided whether or not to cut the 2 percent allowable growth, each school district does not know yet if it will receive state funding.
If the 2 percent allowable growth is cut, each school district will have to adjust its internal budget to rectify loss of monies.
Hinton Community School:
Larry Williams, Hinton interim superintendent, said the school board boiled three options down to a consolidated one at its Monday meeting.
The final option includes $438,000 worth of reductions in a projected $5.95 million budget, said Williams.
Reductions include cutting:
* An elementary classroom teacher.
* The full-time industrial technology teacher will teach during five periods instead of eight.
* One half-time elementary physical education position.
* One half-time Title I position -- a position previously funded by one-time federal stimulus money, Williams said.
* One secretary position.
* Williams' contract and salary were reduced 10 percent.
* The administrators will take no raise for next year.
* Raises for non-certified staff will be limited to 2 percent.
* The summer band position will not be funded. But that won't go into effect until summer 2011 because the band director is under contract for this coming summer.
* The counselors extended contract days were reduced by a total of three days.
* Assistant coaches were reduced in baseball, softball, football, volleyball and men's and women's basketball.
The board's goal was to reach $411,000 with these reductions, but the total amount cut was $438,000.
"That suggests to you that my board has been prudent enough to find reductions that more than meet our probable need, accommodating a worse-than-anticipated scenario," Williams said.
Another goal for the board was to affect students as little as possible.
"We're obviously trying to maintain as closely as we can the class sizes we have," Williams said. "We're trying not to decimate the program."
He also said money struggles are not more taxing at Hinton than any other district.
"It's challenging work made difficult by economic circumstances that the state is facing," Williams said. "I don't particularly see this straightening out or easing up overnight. I think we're going to be in a three-year cycle at least where the resources are going to be kind of hard to come by."
While Williams is the interim superintendent, he has agreed to stay next year to help guide the district through these troubled times of tight budget resources.
"There are no tricks in the bag; there's just hard pain-staking work," Williams said. "I have many years of experience, and while it's never fun and it's not easy, I'm capable of doing it."
Remsen-Union Community School:
Superintendent Ken Howard said cuts for Remsen-Union will include somewhere between $135,000-$185,000.
But this year officials can't promise the levy rate won't be adjusted next year to recoup some of the $266,000 the district lost this year.
Remsen-Union has been pretty conservative throughout the last few years, helping lower the levy rate the last three years, explained Howard.
"We're trying to hold spending down, doing internal reductions and everything else," Howard said. "The thought is, even if you have to raise your levy rates slightly this year, it's better than waiting another year and have an outrageous levy rate increase next year because you weren't proactive."
He added using unspent balance or cash reserves is another option to make up for the loss of money.
"We have various other things too, everything from cutting supplies to moving some jobs around where other individuals are taking on positions that wouldn't normally be on their list of duties," Howard said.
Kingsley-Pierson Community School
During a meeting Monday, Superintendent Scott Bailey said the school board examined what the budget would look like next year through three different lenses:
* 2 percent allowable growth with a 4 percent increase in expenditures,
* 2 percent allowable growth with a 3 percent increase in expenditures,
* 0 percent allowable growth with a 3 percent increase in expenditures.
"We're always watching our budget numbers but until [legislators] decide what schools are getting -- 2 percent, zero -- we can't put things into action," Bailey said. "Until they make a decision, it's a guessing game."
He hopes to see some definite numbers by the end of March but the board is prepared for what they think would be the worst case scenario -- 0 percent allowable growth.
"For now, we're trying to look at all options and trying to continue with the programs that we currently have," Bailey said.
To save money, Bailey said his school district is looking at a common calendar, which would involve sharing teaching opportunities with other schools.
No other cuts are on the table.
"We made $200,000 in cuts last year and that put us in a better position than most school districts this year," Bailey said. "Our spending authority is going down but it's not as bad as it could have been if we didn't make the cuts."
Akron-Westfield Community School
What is vitally important for students?
That's the biggest question the Akron-Westfield School Board is trying to answer, said Tony Ryan, superintendent.
Even though no official budget numbers are available for Akron-Westfield, the board is still aware cuts will need to be made.
"It's a situation where we have to truly dig in as administrators to check into seeing what's vitally important for our students," Ryan said. "What are the other areas that we can get by without for a year or two to weather the finance storm?"
To find the answer, the Akron-Westfield administrators started looking at Chapter 12 -- the bare minimums required by the state as far as academics.
Once establishing that, they evaluated everything which goes above and beyond Chapter 12, Ryan explained.
"We don't want to sacrifice more than we necessarily need to because, ultimately, it's the students who get the consequences of every decision that is made," Ryan said. "But on the same token, we have to be responsible. We can't be spending more than we bring in, hands down."
The school is also trying to identify new, out-of-the-ordinary planning approaches.
Administrators are also re-analyzing what will be charged next year for registration fees, Ryan said.
"Now is that something that we want to do? No, no necessarily," Ryan said. "But, a few dollars here, a few dollars there may help us out with the big picture."
Supply purchases are also being limited; and staffing patterns are being reviewed as well as enrollment patterns.
Akron-Westfield officials is also looking at neighboring districts to see what it can share ranging from administrative to teaching services.
But Ryan said he's trying to focus beyond the financial storm.
During one of his recent classroom visits, Ryan noticed a magnet on the teacher's filing cabinet that read, "Thunderstorms bring rainbows."
It was a simple message he couldn't forget.
"Every school district in the state is kind of battling this challenge together," Ryan said. "Although this is a rough storm financially, we'll get through it and we'll be better people, better educators and a better system because of it."