The Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Board made significant cuts to their budget last night after laying-off thirteen personnel. Thirteen teachers are also retiring after the board provided an early retirement incentive package. Eight of those positions won’t be refilled, for a total of 21 positions being cut district-wide.
School Board Secretary Dana Kerr wanted to replace four of the teachers who would be retiring in order to reduce class size, but the board voted against replacement.
“When 25 states have created laws to keep class sizes at a manageable level, much lower than we are currently, then we believe 25 states have a very good reason for doing so,” he says.
Kerr says lower class sizes causes improved attendance and allows teachers to provide more individual attention to students.
He says the board could have appropriated money from the school district’s lunch fund. Money from the fund could have gone into hiring new teachers whose salaries would have been much lower than those who retired.
But Superintendent Steve Kain says the lunch fund contributes heavily into buying new equipment and making repairs for the school districts’ cafeterias, and he says he is not concerned about the increased number of students per class.
“We’re talking about the difference between 22 and 25. I think we can manage,” he says.
Kain says the state average is 27 students per class. The list lay-offs include five teachers and eight support staff. The board also moved to transfer $485,000 from their rainy day fund.
The cuts are projected to save $878,715 from a budget that had a $800,000 deficit.
Correction: Indiana Public Media News previously reported five positions out of the 13 employees retiring would not be refilled. The Richland Bean Blossom School Corporation has confirmed a total of eight positions will not be refilled.