Superintendent’s proposed budget cuts teachers, raises student discussion

On Monday, April 20, Ames Community School District (ACSD) Superintendent Dr. Linda Beyea presented her budget for the 2009-2010 school year. There has been no question of how bad the next year will be for the school district from a fiscal standpoint, and the Superintendent’s budget reflected these struggles. The proposed budget called for multiple teaching positions to be cut. The budget reflected teachers as “FTE’s” or “full-time equivalents,” meaning that one teacher cut may actually be two teachers teaching half time being cut. The proposed cuts are two elementary school teachers being cut, two teachers from Ames Middle School being cut, and just over three Ames High School teachers being cut. Dr. Beyea’s budget also cut educational assistant time and cut less than one administrator. Dr. Beyea cited the loss of revenue from school fees, the reduction of money for home school assistance, and changes in special education funding. She explained that in the proposed budget, class sizes were important in determining where cuts should be made. “This [staff reductions] is the tough piece,” Dr. Beyea said. “We need to make sure that we are having classes approximately in the range of 26 to 27 in our high school because we are doing that in our elementary schools and we need to have at least a comparable amount for a high school kid that we would expect for a kindergartener or a first grade student.” Many students have shown great interest in the proposed budget. Multiple students sat through the School Board meeting on April 20 to hear Dr. Beyea’s budget. Students have reviewed copies of the budget, and even brainstormed alternate ways to save money. Overall, all parties do seem to realize the fiscal problems that Ames faces. “I understand that losses and unexpected costs have caused them [ACSD administration and School Board] to be forced to make cuts,” said Matt Lee, one of the Student Council co-presidents and a senior at Ames High School. “But I find it unfortunate that they think that cutting Ames High School teachers is a main area to go after to solve problems, though after reviewing the budget, I don’t see many options other than staff reductions. I hope that students realize how this affects them. Students should voice their concerns and review the budget as cutting teachers always has negatives impacts for students.” The Superintendent’s Office has announced that there will be public input sessions for the 2009-2010 proposed budget. On May 2, at 9:00 in the morning, there will be a community input session in the City Council Chambers (515 Clark Ave.). On May 4 at 6:30 in the evening, there will be the regular School Board meeting in the AHS multipurpose room. On May 11 at 6:15 in the evening, there will be another community input session at the First United Methodist Church (516 Kellogg Ave.). The budget will be voted on by the School Board during the regular School Board meeting on May 19 at 6:30 in the evening in the AHS multipurpose room.