In the wake of a failed levy request in November, the Field Board of Education put the school district's finances under the microscope Monday, learning that another $900,000 in cuts is needed to balance the district's budget for 2014.
The board planned to discuss a resolution of necessity and early plans to place a levy request on the ballot for the district covering Brimfield and Suffield at Monday's meeting. Those discussions were not completed by press time.
A planned executive session to evaluate Superintendent Beth Coleman's job performance also was not completed by press time.
A 5.0-mill, three-year levy was defeated at the Nov. 6 election. It was the fourth levy in a row to fail, and came after the Field Board of Education cut $1.5 million from its budget in the previous two years.
Another $897,00 must come off the district's books before it can present a balanced 2014 budget to the state, Treasurer James Vokac said.
"We've got to take care of the Field Local School District, whatever it takes," board member Larry Stewart said. "First we've got to pass a levy. Past that, I don't know what else to say."
Board members cautioned that Monday's discussions were preliminary, and more like a brainstorming session. Among the possible budget cuts discussed Monday were eliminating all sports in grades 7 through 12. That alone could save $125,000.
Eliminating pay step increases for employees could shave another $500,000 off the budget, though some of those decisions can only be made through union negotiations, the board cautioned.
Other savings could come from not replacing retiring teachers, adding to existing employees' job descriptions, cutting marching band and drama programs and ending student council and National Honor Society programs by cutting their advisers' salaries. A $100,000 reduction in the supplies and materials budget also was discussed.
Ending sports was an unpopular choice among audience members and the board, with board member Terry Kettering noting that many student athletes also are honor roll students who participate in other activities in school and the community.
"We're losing good kids if we don't have sports," he said.
Board member Laura May also quoted statistics that said more than 430 Field students were athletes in 2011. Losing them, she said, would cost the district $2.5 million in state funding. Several audience members said they, or people they knew, were discussing or looking to move out of the district if the school funding situation did not improve.
Board member Donna Karg said she wants more information -- including which sports break even or turn a profit through ticket sales or concessions -- before making any decisions. She said she would never cut sports outright.
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