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Layoffs might be necessary in schools

A “lean, tight” budget for FY 2010 was approved by the Butler County Board of Education Thursday night during its regular meeting.

But it may not be enough to keep the system from enduring financial hardship in the near future, said Superintendent Mike Looney.

“This is a lean, tight budget – but I am still concerned. There is a strong indication after October 1, the governor will again declare proration of between 4.5 percent and 10 percent, with 8-8.5 percent most likely,” Looney said.

The fund balance of $1,540,208.80 will drop to less than $150,000 with 8 percent proration and to a deficit of $150,000-plus, with 10 percent proration in FY 2010.

“If we do nothing, as things stand, we will have no cash reserves at the end of 2010. As your current superintendent, I pledged to guide the board to be fiscally conservative,” Looney said.

“I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I do want to be a realist. I don’t want to leave my successor with struggling to make ends meet.”

Looney encouraged the board to consider enacting the Reduction in Force (RIF) Policy to help offset the damage to be done by proration.

The superintendent also pointed out much of the Central Office staff salaries are not paid from the General Fund.

“There has been much criticism, innuendo and speculation regarding the monies for these positions. In truth, most of the monies for salaries at this level come from grants,” Looney said.

“What is paid from the General Fund is the superintendent’s salary and then 25 percent of the salaries for Mr. Whittle, Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Murphy. From that perspective, there isn’t much that can be cut.”

The superintendent went on to say a number of systems in the state were already completely deleted in terms of cash reserves.

“We have systems now who are having to borrow money to make payroll, so I have to applaud the board for being good stewards thus far,” Looney said.

The board will further address budget issues at its October 10 workshop.

On Friday, Looney said he had reached an oral agreement with Williamson County, Tenn. concerning his contract as their new superintendent He said he will travel to Tennessee on Monday, September 21, and expects to have the last details of the contract hammered out.

A special called meeting is tentatively planned for Thursday, September 24.