Field schools consider $900,000 budget fix

By Dave O'Brien | staff writer Published:

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.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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  • It's not necessary to post comments about the young men who are ogled on supposed Field community sites. Here is a direct quote, "I am just wondering how much we could have made if that shirt would have come off! I think the bills would have been flying!" Not a very good idea for raising funds, to say the least. Please post crude comments somewhere else. And maybe focus on supporting the kids instead of all the guys for a change.

  • I'd really like to see this levy pass, for the sake of the children. Not sure why the levy hasn't passed yet, or what the problem is. I've entertained the idea of attending a levy committee meeting in hopes of helping out somehow, some way. The thing is, I'm very disappointed in the levy committee. Beavus and Butthead seem to think it's ok to degrade people on social media, on sites that are supposed to represent the community and schools. I see the negativity that surrounds the levy committee. I see the nasty remarks from mean, unhappy people. I see the put-downs and name calling. I'd like to know how the levy committee thinks it's beneficial to pass a levy by putting others down? How's that working, anyway? From the looks of things the levy has failed 4 times. The levy committee's tactics are not working, obviously. I would be completely embarrassed to post the commentaries the levy committee has posted to the public. I am appaulled, really, that grown women would act that way. What negative attention these ladies bring themselves. Arguing with people on social media? Really? I guess telling people to get a life if the person does not agree with the levy terms is acceptable in their circle. Furthermore, I think most people would take offense to being told if they cannot afford increased property taxes they should relocate. Not a good way to go about promoting a levy. If I'm picking up on all the negativity that surrounds the committee, I cannot imagine what others are thinking when they read the nasty remarks the committee posts to the public. And the children in the community who go to these links for information, have they stopped to think about that? What an example the committee is leaving to the younger generation. I hope you're proud of yourselves. It's time for adults to start acting like adults. Promote the levy already and stop playing games and arguing with people on socail media. Grow up already.