Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Kings explains cutbacks


Shortfall means layoffs, millions slashed, officials outline in meetings

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Kings Schools district residents are turning out to find out more about plans for $2 million in budget cuts.

More than 60 residents of this Warren County district attended a special public meeting earlier this week at J.F. Burns Elementary to hear Kings school officials explain a budget deficit in 2006 of $3.6 million and the need to cut $1 million this year and next to help cover the shortfall.

More than two dozen school jobs, including a handfulof teaching positions, will be eliminated for next school year, Kings officials told the crowd during the second of four public meetings being held throughout the school system. The next meeting is 7 p.m. March 9 at Kings Mills Elementary at 1780 Kings Ave.

Kings school parent Bob Naughton said he appreciated the effort of school officials, including Kings school board members, who are conducting the meetings to further community understanding of the financial troubles facing the district. Officials are also laying the groundwork for a proposed 2-mill operating levy they say is likely to be on the fall ballot.

"It's up to us residents to get as much information as possible and they are making it easier," said Naughton, citing the meeting's open forum for questions that follow each budget presentation.

Kings Superintendent Charles Mason said the job cuts are being done over the next two months as teacher and employee contracts, seniority and other factors are sorted out to assure that the personnel reductions are done with minimal impact on student learning.

Adding to district's problems was the discovery of toxic lead on school grounds in August. A $2 million clean up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began last month but the district has lost its football field to the soil removal, which is expected to be paid for by federal money and to be completed in June.

"When the EPA is done, all we'll have is four light poles left and we'll have to remove two of those," Mason said as part of the discussion to replace the athletic facility.

E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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