9:27 p.m. - Signing off, meeting is wrapping up. Michael D. Clark of The Cincinnati Enquirer is also here. He will be posting his story later and can be seen in tomorrow’s paper. WestChesterBuzz.com will share that story once it is available.
9:25 p.m. - The cuts came in at very quick pace tonight, once the voting began. Information on all reduction proposals can be seen at www.lakotaonline.com/budget.
9:23 p.m. - Let’s add it all up – cuts of $3.5 million to administration, district-wide personnel and supplementals, $390,000 in cuts to athletics, $2.7 million in cuts to high school, $1.6 million in cuts to junior high, $1.5 million in cuts to K-6 and $1.2 in cost savings to preschool. That is a total of $10,890,000 in cost savings. However, only $73,000 of the athletic cuts will count against the general fund – so that final number is really around $10.5 million.
9:17 p.m. - The school board just approved to make $3.5 million in cuts to administration, district-wide personnel and supplementals.
9:14 p.m. - The school board approved to cut $73,000 of the $500,000 given to high school athletics from the general fund. But before doing so, the board amended the second option. It decided not to use the cuts suggested in the second option – which includes offering chess and academic as clubs and not sports, eliminating gymnastics and boys volleyball, as well as reducing the athletic maintenance budget. As of right now, it is unknown how the board will cut $73,000 from its athletics fund.
9:09 p.m. - The school board approved the first option to cuts to athletics. The costs cover the shortfall from cuts to athletics last year. It does not impact the general fund. Right now, the district gives $500,000 towards high school athletics. The second option calls for $73,000 of that amount to be cut.
9:06 p.m. - To review, part 1 was to make the school day 34 minutes shorter, part 2 was the change to a six-bell schedule, part 3 is to change graduation requirements from 21 credits to 20 credits, part 4 is to authorize the superintendent to proceed with the physical education waiver for grades 9-12 per Ohio Department of Education guidelines, part 5 is the minimum reduction of certified/licensed staff – 42.8 FTEs.
9:03 p.m. - Lakota approved the first part of the high school cuts by way of a 4-to-1 vote. O’Connor was the only member who voted against it. Parts 2, 3 and 5 were passed by the same vote. While, all members agreed with part 4.
9:00 p.m. - School board vice president Julie Shaffer is getting emotional about the high school cuts. She said that $2.1 million of the $2.7 in cuts is from the shorter schedule and change to a six-bell schedule.
8:58 p.m. - School board member Lynda O’Connor had a prepared speech and voiced her concern – saying that the high school cuts will have the most impact of all the budget cuts. O’Connor said that she doesn’t want to leave $2.7 million on the table, but cannot support this budget proposal.
8:55 p.m. - High school cuts are up. The board has a budget proposal that includes $2.7 million in cuts. Those cuts include a shorter day with starting time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. and ending time from 2:39 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.
8:52 p.m. - All board members voted in favor of the junior high cuts. That is $1.6 million in cuts to junior high, $1.2 million saved from merging the preschool services and $1.5 million in cuts to K-6.
8:50 p.m. - Cuts to junior high up now – the total cost savings is $1.6 million. The cuts include the change in school day from six and a half hours to six hours and the change to six bells at the junior high.
8:48 p.m. - The first option allows 30 minutes for students once a week in those special subjects, while the second option is for 45 minutes. Every board member voted for the second option.
8:47 p.m. - Budget proposals for K-6 is up now. For information on both options see posts at 8:23 and 8:25. Both plans cut instruction time for the art, music and physical education to students in K-6.
8:43 p.m. Option one for preschool was approved by way of a 3-to-2 vote. O’Connor, Ray Murray and Ben Dibble voted in favor. Powell and Shaffer voted against it.
8:38 p.m. - Lakota school board vice president Julie Shaffer is talking about the benefits of the second option, which will save the district less money $1.5 compared to $1.9 – but will allow Lakota to retain management of its preschool program.
8:35 p.m. - The Lakota school board is discussing the first option first. Lakota school board president Ben Dibble said Lakota has a “proven” preschool program. He also said that the first option is the most that they could change it. School board member Lynda O’Connor said that it is a good deal. Fellow member Joan Powell says that it is not the lowest option in regards to cost per student, but doesn’t appear to be in favor of it.
8:30 p.m. – The school board has just started discussing its votes on budget proposals. First up is preschool (look 8:15 pm.) for breakdown of the budget cut options.
8:25 p.m. - CONT. 8:23 p.m. The second option will also restructure the delivery of art, music and physical education at the elementary level (grades one through six). However, the difference is that students will allowed one class once a week for 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes. This option is expected to save the district roughly $1.5 million.
8:23 p.m. - The second budget proposal on the agenda K-6. It also has two options. The first option will restructure the delivery of art, music and physical education at the elementary level (grades one through six) so students receive only one of the subject special, on time each week for 30 minutes during the tutorial and enrich periods. The option is expected to save the district $1.9 million.
8:15 p.m. - The school board has yet to vote on any budget proposals. The first, however, on the agenda is preschool. There are currently two options to choose from. The first option was presented back in January – it involves a merger that will allow Lakota to purchase its preschool services from Butler County Educational Services center for the 2012-2013 school year. The second option will allow Lakota to maintain its preschool program under Lakota management and reduce classroom units from 15 units to 11. The first option will save the district $1.2 million. The second option will save the district $800,000.
8:03 p.m. - CONT. from 7:54 and 7:50 – Every person who is attendance was offered an agenda of the meeting, which included those cuts to expenses over the last few years. The list is rather long, but include savings to electricity, gas and water, new technology, reduced mailings – and many other renegotiations, rebates and cutbacks.
7:54 p.m. – CONT. from 7:50 p.m. – “The sheer volume of smart business strategies implemented in the last few years is staggering,” Mantia said.
7:50 p.m. - Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia wanted to make it clear that the school district is cutting costs for expenses that don’t impact students’ educations. “People are telling us to run this school district like a business,” she said. “Those are folks who haven’t bothered to check the facts. Lakota is being run better than most businesses.”
7:42 p.m. - Just FYI, if you are following along and want to read up on all the budget cuts – Information on all current reduction proposals can be seen at www.lakotaonline.com/budget.
7:38 p.m. - In response to a Lakota parent (see 7:21 p.m.), school board president Ben Dibble defended athletic costs, saying that it “benefits students.” Last year, the Lakota school district raised its sports fees – causing less participation on the high school and junior high levels. The district decided to support the high school athletics department with $500,000, down from $1.5 million from the year before (2010-2011).
7:32 p.m. - CONT. from 7:28 p.m. – Alderson said that the Community Foundation does not support No Lakota Levy or its “Yes To Lakota Kids” program. No Lakota Levy campaigns in the Lakota school district to defeat school tax levies.
7:28 p.m. - CEO of The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty Patti Alderson addressed the board to clear the air about its Lakota Athletic Participation Fee Fund. Alderson said that the Community Foundation was approached by No Lakota Levy’s “Yes To Lakota Kids” program with a possible $10,000 donation. No Lakota Levy’s “Yes To Lakota Kids” was created to help students pay for higher school sports fees, according to the group’s founder Rich Hoffman. Alderson said the Community Foundation turned down the donation. Once proclaiming that, the crowd here at Lakota East High School cheered loudly.
7:21 p.m. - West Chester resident John Trygier said, “They are not willing to make the choices on what sports to cut.” Trygier believes all athletics should be self-sufficient. The board will vote on two options in regards to athletics. One option will save the district $317,000 and not save any money from the $154 million general fund. The second option will save the district $390,000 and $73,000 from the district’s general fund.
7:14 p.m. – West Chester resident John Trygier addressing the Lakota Board of Education. Just prior to the meeting, Trygier said that he didn’t like how the cuts to education from K-12 were presented before public input. “We are going to makes to education, but are still supporting athletics.”
Start of the meeting - School board members of the Lakota school district just started their meeting at Lakota East High School where they will be voting on budget reduction proposals, which include roughly $10.9 million in cuts.
The board will decide whether to approve proposals that include between $800,000 to $1.2 million, between $1.5 to $1.9 million in cuts to K-6, $1.6 million in cuts to junior high, $2.7 million in cuts to high school, $317,000 to $390,000 in cuts to athletics, $1.27 million in cuts to district-wide administration and $3.5 million to cuts administration.
Throughout the process of determining cuts, Lakota officials have said that they needed to cut $9 million to its $154 million operating budget for next school year. Furthermore, according to the district’s five-year forecast, if the cuts are not made the district will face a projected budget shortfall of $14.1 million in 2015.
According to Michael D. Clark of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Lakota has already downsized more than $25 million from its operating budget in recent years, including dozens of teaching jobs, busing for thousands of students, many student programs while raising student fees.
Roughly $10.2 million of those cuts, which included busing, came last year.
During the reduction proposal process in 2011, school officials had aimed to cut roughly $12.2 million by the 2011-2012 school year. An April scheduled vote on that proposal was tabled until late May, when the school officials trimmed the amount of cuts to $10.2 million.
Information on all current reduction proposals can be seen at www.lakotaonline.com/budget.