Two teaching positions cut

BOURBON — The Triton School Board took definitive action to solve the budget shortfall at its regular meeting Monday night. As a result, two full-time teaching positions will be eliminated this fall.
Superintendent Donna Burroughs, presenting the report of the Finance Committee, which also reflected her own recommendations, detailed four main actions which were approved unanimously by the five-member board.
According to Burroughs, though, no teachers will actually be cut.
“We did not ‘cut’ any teachers at Triton,” Burroughs said in an email to The Pilot News. “In fact, we actually have postings for teacher positions at both buildings at the present time.
“The number of retirements at Triton made it possible to not have to cut anyone from the payroll because of the budget,” Burroughs explained. “We eliminated one elementary classroom section and eliminated industrial arts,  but we did not cut any teachers.”
One elementary teaching position will be abolished at the Triton Elementary School. The grade level will be determined after the 2013-2014 enrollment is completed.
Also, the Industrial Arts program at Triton Jr./Sr. High School will be jettisoned due to low student interest and enrollment.
These two reductions in force will result in approximately $140,000 in savings.
Another cost-saving measure involves not hiring the usual replacement/help staff for summer cleaning/custodial work. This will save the corporation $18,248.
An added change involves employee benefits. It is not so much a budgetary problem as it is a statutory problem connected with the Affordable Health Care Act.
Currently, all full-time and part-time employees are offered insurance plans. Under the new law, employees may not pay more than a certain percentage of their salary toward health insurance. While this is not a problem for full-time employees, the 20 or so part-time employees using health insurance will exceed the allowed percentage, thus resulting in a fine to the corporation of $100,000 per year.
Adjustments will be made to both staffing, policies and job descriptions to meet the allowable criteria as defined in the Act.
Among the other action taken up at Tuesday’s school board meeting:
• To round out the financial considerations, three actions were unanimously approved which will not adversely affect school corporation personnel.
Burroughs requested and was given permission to apply for available grants throughout the year—a necessary formality.
The Board adopted a supplemental bond resolution to refinance the Pension Bond of 2004 which will save the corporation $37,000.
Lunch prices were increased for next year by 5 cents per meal, which would mean $1.65 at the elementary school and $1.85 at the Jr./Sr. High.
Affecting the entire corporation, however, is the national budget “sequester,” which Burroughs reported would result in a loss to the corporation of 5 percent in special education funding and 5 percent in Title I funding.
• Michael Chobanov, Triton Jr./Sr. High School principal, reported that interviews are going well for a junior/senior high school counselor to replace Hugh Rettinger, who is retiring this year. Two candidates are still in the running.
•Superintendent Burroughs was appointed trustee of ESCRFT, the corporation’s new liability insurance carrier.
• A $3,200 donation was gratefully accepted from Lake City Heating Corporation for chartering the bus which took the boys basketball team to state finals in Indianapolis.
• The revision to the Board policies was passed on its first reading. Passage on the second reading and approval are expected at the May meeting. The policy changes mainly address discrimination in hiring and updating electronics, and will bring the corporation in line with new state laws.
• One item of concern addressed by the board was the scheduling of spring break for the 2013-14 school year.
At issue was convenience for corporation families and school personnel and 17 vocational/technical students who travel to either Warsaw or Plymouth for classes.
If the break coincides with Warsaw, then the five Plymouth students would receive no break since their classes continue there. In reverse, if the break aligns with Plymouth, then 12 Warsaw students lose their break.
The Board voted 4-1 to schedule spring break the last full week in March, with several board members expressing their concern and regret for the decision.
Burroughs said that this would only be a problem for next year. After that, area school corporations were planning to have a unified spring break schedule.
In a work session taking place prior to the Board meeting, members reviewed the athletic handbook. One change involved the “three strike” punishment procedure for infractions. Current policies state that the three strikes carry over from junior high to high school. This policy was changed to state that all students have a clean slate when entering ninth grade. Another change included a form that all parents of student athletes must sign. The revised athletic handbook is scheduled for approval at the May board meeting.