Superintendent introduced an item at Tuesday night's board of education meeting with some foreboding words.
"There is never a good time to have this conversation," he told the board.
Then he began to outline nearly $1 million in district staffing needs, which the board would unanimously approve.
"I am very aware that we are facing financial challenges as a district," he said. "Another reality (facing the district), however, is we continue to be a growing school district."
It's nearing 30,000 students and has been growing at about 4 percent, or 1,000 students, a year, according to a presentation by the in January.
The needs included increasing the per student allocation for tech support at the middle and elementary schools, hiring four half-time teachers on special assignment (or TSAs), and opening up five positions in the area of business and maintenance/maintenance services.
Those positions are:
- Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations
- CBO / Controller
- Purchasing Director
- Energy Manager
- Night custodian supervisor
District at risk as services thin out, Enoch says
Enoch said that with a district of this size, not having these needs filled leaves it at risk of a system failure and, potentially, in a financial crisis due to inadequate oversight and monitoring.
"Being thin in business support services is risky business," Enoch said. "It's just the prudent thing to do because of the amount of dollars that flow through this district."
Yet, these positions aren't necessarily new to the district. Community Relations Directory Terry Koehne said that at one point, the district had someone in each of these jobs, except energy manager, which is somewhat new due to the various energy technologies that have evolved and are now part of the district.
"In '96, when I came on board, we had all of these positions filled and enrollment was under 20,000," Koehne said. Over the course of the last decade and a half, the district has added 10 schools and 10,000 students.
"We have more buildings, more students, more cleaning, more maintenance, with less and less support," Koehne said. "We bite the bullet to maintain these levels, to maintain what we have. But the more strain we push on the system, the more chance the system could break."
Central administration first cut but it's time to fill
Koehne said that as funding dwindles, central administration is always the first to get cut. And, over the years, each of these positions have either been slashed or, in the CBO/controller and assistant superintendent of facilities and operations positions, combined.
Currently, Gary Black, under the title assistant superintendent of business services and facilities, is at the helm of both finances and facilities.
"The work of the CBO and the facilities maintenance will eventuality crush Gary," Board member Paul Gardner said. "You've done an amazing job (Gary) but I do think it has to be split."
Black would continue on as assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, while his fiscal operations would be fall under the CBO/controller's job.
"It's too much, too big, too unrealistic," Enoch said of Black's current duties. "The scope is too big and it should be split at this point."
For the other position, Enoch said that adding a purchasing and an energy manager could actually save the district money, though numbers weren't available at the time of the meeting.
The energy manager would oversee both the human aspect of energy conservation as well as the implementation of energy monitoring and energy technology controlling. "We would recoup significant dollars (with this position)," Enoch told the board.
The energy manager, Koehne said, has been a discussion in the district for about two years.
The purchasing manager has been on the books but has remained unfilled, Enoch said. There is no singular person at the head of purchasing in the district, currently, Enoch said. Due to this, he added, the district may in fact be losing dollars. Staff documents state "the district will experience better pricing of goods and services, as well as better quality of product and strong legal contract protection once this position is filled."
The night custodian supervisor was requested because, currently, the district has 83 custodians working at night with no direct supervisor. Staff documents state that this is an "unacceptable structure."
Board approves needs but what's the cost?
The board approved the positions, as well as the increase in tech support at the middle and elementary schools and the four half-time TSAs.
The five business and facilities/maintenance positions would increase the general fund by about $500,000, and increase the cost to Fund 21 by $44,000.
For tech support, the district currently spends $6.24 per middle school student and $5 per elementary student in tech support. Enoch requested that those per pupil allocations both be raised to $12. The high school allocation is $15.61 and will stay the same. The cost associated here would be an increase to the general fund by $139,739.
And, finally, the four half-time TSAs would increase the general fun by $100,000 and categorical funding by $200,000.
The board's unanimous approval for these needs lock them in for the 2012-13 budget, which starts July 1. The total increase in cost to the general fund for the 2012-13 budget is $739,742, plus $244,000 in categorical funding.
Questions were raised about when to actually fill the positions but it was clear that all the members agreed that these needs should be filled.
"We are big boys and girls now, and we've let them go too long," Gardner said.