May 9, 2014

The part-time art position at Carroll High School - currently held by Dean Kollasch - could be the second, and final, position eliminated in the Carroll Community School District next year.

The first position to receive notice of elimination was the high school media specialist, held by Jill Nehman.

The potential elimination of the two positions is part of the school district's effort to cut nearly $500,000 from its 2014-15 budget.

Kollasch has been working in the district for two years. He previously worked as an art teacher in the Kuemper Catholic School System for 21 years, before leaving Carroll for a period in 1994.

Both Nehman and Kollasch plan to appeal the decision to the board of education. Kollasch declined to comment further on the potential elimination of the position.

These are the only two positions that could be eliminated next year, confirmed district superintendent Rob Cordes. Cutting those two positions would have the "least impact on core classes," Cordes said.

Eliminating the two positions would save the district between $90,000 and $100,000, he added.

The necessity of budget reductions have been a topic at every board meeting this year.

The state of Iowa sets maximum per-pupil spending for all districts - an amount that is $1,600 below the national average. Coupled with a decade of declining enrollment, school districts have less money available each year for classroom instruction, nearly 80 percent of which is spent on salaries - which continue to rise year after year.

The state also changed its requirements this year for districts operating a cash reserve levy - a funding source that has helped fill the gap between general-fund revenue and expenditures in past years, but is not available to the Carroll district this year.

In an effort to reduce cuts to staff and programs, the district offered hefty early-retirement incentives this year - 60 percent of an educator's salary, with a maximum set at $35,000, for any employee who had spent 15 years in the district. As a result, 13 educators volunteered for early retirement, an effort that would have saved the district roughly $680,000 if none of those positions needed to be refilled, Cordes said previously.

He confirmed this week that the bulk of the budget cuts for next year will stem from not filling positions vacated by early retirees. He declined to comment on how many or which positions would not be refilled, or what the actual amount of savings to the district will be.

Though the school board had planned to have a budget-reduction workshop in April, the meeting was cancelled. Cordes said that he will tell the board what reductions he believes "necessary" and the board will decide whether to approve those budget cuts.

Cordes said that he continues to review the line-item budget - meaning program cuts have not been ruled out.

The next regular board meeting is slated for May 19.