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March 23, 2013

Peru Central proposes staff reductions

PERU — Peru Central School could eliminate the equivalent of 21.8 full-time positions to bridge its anticipated $2.9 million budget gap for 2013-14.

Superintendent Dr. Patrick Brimstein presented the recommended reductions, totaling $1.3 million, to the School Board at a meeting this week, saying his goal was to maintain as much breadth of programs as possible.

The proposed personnel reductions include the equivalent of 1.6 full-time Academic Intervention Services teachers; 0.5 of an account clerk typist position; three elementary teachers; four teacher assistants; 0.4 of an elementary art teaching position; 1.6 media specialists; one custodial position; one secondary-school nurse; 0.2 of a health teaching position; 3.4 secondary teachers; one special-education teacher aide; 0.6 of a secondary music teacher; one school psychologist; 0.5 of a typist position; and two special-education teachers.

Many of these positions, Brimstein said, could potentially be eliminated through attrition.

He also proposed reducing expenditure on equipment, contractual, materials and supplies district-wide by $46,577.

LEVY LIMIT

None of the reductions, he said at the meeting, are proposed without reason, and whatever recommendations the board ends up making, “there still has to be cuts ... it has to come from somewhere, (but) we’re trying to minimize impact.”

Peru Central has also proposed using $1,352,197 in reserves next school year to help close its budget deficit, which, according to school officials, is the result of significant cost increases combined with relatively flat state aid.

While PCSD originally calculated its 2013-14 tax-levy limit at 2.34 percent, an exclusion in the levy-limit formula related to rising costs of Teacher Retirement System contributions allows Peru to raise it up to 4.32 percent without super-majority voter approval.

During a public-comment period, Peru Association of Teachers President Kathleen Roach told the board she personally prefers the district exceed the levy limit instead of making cuts.

Board President Donna LaRocque said that while she would like to be able to do that, she fears voters wouldn’t approve such a spending plan.

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