2009-11-21 / News

Lakewood starts process to cut $1 million

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – “It all starts with a bull’s eye,” Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault told school board members November 11.

He held up a paper with a large green ring encompassing a smaller yellow ring, in turn surrounding a large red dot , or bull’s eye to explain his strategy to cut $1 million in district expenditures. The cuts became necessary when voters rejected an additional five year 8.9 mill operating levy by a 2972 to 1798 vote.

Gault asked board members to picture the red dot as state mandates; no mandates can be cut. The yellow ring represents curriculum enhancements that may be cut if necessary. The green ring represents extras that are the prime targets for cuts.

“People will have differing ideas about what’s an extra and what’s an enhancement,” said Gault. He said the district unions, staff, and public need to work together to separate the extras from the enhancements. The board will make the final decision, Gault said, but the public must be directly involved in the decision.

Gault said the district will send letters home with students explaining their intention to form a core group to represent the district. This group will lead the discussion about what are extras and enhancements.

Gault was clear that once cuts are made, those programs are gone for good. Even approval of another levy won’t bring them back. “This isn’t fun for anybody,” he said.

Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhoffer said Monday that he has no idea what to expect right now in terms of budget cuts. “We will be starting our community portion of this process soon to identify our three categories- – state mandates, enhancements, and extras,” he said. “The input from our administrative team, staff, parents, and interested community members will be used to help guide this process.”

Board President Joe Bowman, Jr. agreed that there are no specifics to report now. “I really don’t know how the expense reduction picture will look and it’s still too early to tell,” he said. “Maybe in December it will clear up for us.” Bowman really doesn’t believe the district has any insignificant “extras.” “I’d like to think that everything we do is an enhancement,” he said. “We’ll have to prioritize though in order to reduce our expense structure.”

In other Lakewood news:

• High school counselor Valerie Kieffer said the district should change how it calculates grade point averages, or GPAs. Extra credit may actually penalize advanced students’ GPAs under the existing system. She said changing to an honors GPA calculation is fairer.

Lakewood High School Principal Larry Bevard said seniors are pushed to take challenging classes, but many of them are discovering that their GPAs may actually improve if they don’t push themselves.

Kieffer said right now Lakewood High School uses the standard calculation, which is the total points (4.0 for an A, 3.0 for each B, etc.) over the total credits. This calculation can be a detriment to a student who chooses to take more credits (instead of study halls), as that denominator would increase and make the GPA smaller.

“We have done the calculation several times with different students and the result is not a large discrepancy, but it is a difference when calculated with the standard and honors formula,” she said, “which is why we want to implement the change.”

In the Honors GPA calculation, the GPA is figured with a different formula that accounts for students taking more credits as well as weighted courses and makes sure student GPAs are not penalized for enrolling in more courses, said Kieffer.

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