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Parkway 'Report Cards' Go Electronic Next Fall, With Other Budget Cuts

Budget cuts mean streamlining costs and reducing staff.

district officials painted a gray picture Wednesday night for Parkway Board of Education directors, with specific plans to cut up to $9.6 million from the Chesterfield-based school district over the next two years.

Schools Chief Financial Officer Mark Stockwell seemed to pull no punches in his prediction.

"We are not yet through this economic crisis. We don't know what the following years will bring," Stockwell said. Administrators had cuts planned only for the this school year and the next, so far.

"Spending down reserves is not an appropriate way to continue," said Parkway  Superintendent Keith Marty.

The district has been spending down its reserve funds since 2007, officials said.

They blamed lower property tax and sales tax revenues for the slump in district funding.

Marty said it would not be possible to cut costs without impacting personnel. Twenty fulltime layoffs were on the table.

The Board of Education for Parkway schools heard advice from an ad hoc budget committee that met seven times in November to identify what cuts to make to the $210.5 million annual budget.

Ditching student grade reports "cards" for electronic versions in the secondary schools would save the district $40,000.

Questions about why not use electronic reports for all grades and students, led to an explanation that elementary school staff was not using the district data system for reports, and that progress reports did not lend themselves to electronic format.

Also on the chopping block were multiple "intervention" experts—reading and math specialists for example.

Officials said the days of having one of each specialist per school were likely over.

Rather, the district would deploy a nimble team of experts to schools periodically for intensive work, when and where the data showed a need. The team would roam K-12 grades districtwide.

In the youngest grades, full-day Kindergarten free has filled the need for many of the interventionists, officials said.

Operating budgets for departments would be slashed 10 percent, under the plan. One exception would be insurance premiums, officials said, since those were going up in price—and the district felt it had no control over it.

The cost of summer school classes will jump from $15 to $25 per class, with one board member suggesting higher prices if necessary, to make the program self-sustaining.

"I think we would all agree that even $25 is a bargain," Beth Feldman said.

Registration for all the district schools would be centralized with the aid of a computer networt, eliminating a registrar post at each school.

Extra clerical staff jobs would also be eliminated. Officials said those posts are based on enrollments at schools, and numbers change.

Officials indicated that school principals would be the czars of change in each school, based on the edicts, should the Board of Education approved the cost-cutting measures.

Like in every other industry hit by economic woes, with the elimination of some support staff, current staff and/or volunteers would pick up the duties, for example, of lunch monitor or following up on minor repairs, officials said.

Also, elementary teachers who may not seem strong in certain subjects, would get updated, professional development instruction.

"We just built all those science labs," said Feldman. "We need to fill them up with the next doctors."

Superintendent Marty put a good face on the cost-cutting ahead, describing how with his arrival in the district late last year, there was a lot of talk about change.

"Sometimes budget issues push you in that way quicker," Marty said. "It's a challenge. Organizations can be shaken, but come out of this, better."

Board of Ed votes up or down on the measures Feb. 8, its next meeting. If there are comments, make them below the story, or contact your Board of Ed—info follows.

Parkway Board of Education directors 

Chris Jacob, president
222 Wildbrier Dr.
Ballwin 63011
636-527-9496
Term Expires: April 2014
First Elected: 2008
    
Beth Feldman, vice-president
14060 Ladue
Chesterfield 63017
314-317-9569
Term Expires: April 2012
First Appointed: 2008
First Elected: 2009

Tom Appelbaum, director
12739 Cypressway Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63146
314-985-5673
Term Expires: April 2013
First Elected: 2010

Helen Casteel, director
13276 Windygate Lane
St. Louis, MO 63146
314-542-0129
Term Expires: April 2012
First Elected: 2006

Bruce W. Major, director
717 Juniper Glen Ct.
Ballwin, MO 63021
636-527-0798
Term Expires: April 2014
First Elected: 2008

Dee Mogerman, director
12641 Royal Manor
St. Louis, MO 63141
314-205-8685
Term Expires: April 2014
First Appointed: 2004
First Elected: 2005

Sam Sciortino, director
930 Town & Country Estates Ct.
St. Louis, MO 63141 
314-569-9334 
Term Expires: April 2013
First Elected : 2010

Dr. Keith Marty, superintendent of schools    314-415-8002
CFO Mark Stockwell    314-415-8006


 

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