OV Board Defends School Cutbacks
Published: May 2nd, 2007
By: Jessica Lewis

SOUTH OTSELIC – The Otselic Valley Board of Education held a meeting last night to discuss the factors of the 2007/2008 budget. Parents, teachers and community members filled the gymnasium of the elementary school in Georgetown, eager to voice their concerns.

The Board of Education has proposed the lowest budget increase in three years, with the budget increasing from $7,819,634 in 2006/2007 to $8,178,842 in 2007/2008, an increase of 4.59 percent. However because of the rural size and small population of the district, a tax levy increase of 5.77 percent is expected. In order to keep the tax levy increase to a minimum, the school has decided to cut three teaching positions and two support staff positions.

Those who attended the meeting asked the board when they would vote to give a raise to the administration, an item that had been tabled at a previous meeting. “The general public wants to know how you can cut three teachers, but give the administration a raise,” said Cindy Neal, president of the teacher’s association. Neal also said she though the board was being misleading. She pointed to the mailing they had sent to district residents concerning the vote, in which the board stated that despite a 20 percent decline in enrollment over the last seven years, the district had “generally maintained the same level of staffing.”

“I know we’ve lost five to six teachers in that time. That’s one teacher for every 20 students,” Neal said.

The board said the matter of the administration’s raise would be voted on at the next school board meeting on May 15 – the same day voters will decide on the school budget.

“Everybody should know what the raise is going to be before the vote,” said Bill Waltz, a parent in the district. “As a taxpayer, I would like to know what the administration is getting as a raise.”

School Board President Greg Brown told the crowd that the board didn’t decide to hold off on the issue, but because of different factors, the issue was placed on the agenda for the May 15 meeting.

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