Manchester Board OKs school financial plan

By Eric Christiansen

NORTH MANCHESTER -- Two Manchester Community Schools teachers will be cut due to Reduction in Force (RIF) and Manchester Intermediate School in Laketon will stay as-is and not be repurposed. Six other open certified positions will also not be replaced.

Those cost-cutting measures, along with savings that have already been in place such as transportation, maintenance, utilities and insurance will save the corporation $879,941.

The MCS Board of Trustees approved a revised financial savings plan that was presented by Superintendent Dr. Teresa Gremaux and Business Manager Jeremy Markham at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, June 16.

After the board granted an extension to a cost-cutting plan that was presented in a Special Meeting Wednesday, June 3, after school administrators and the Manchester Teachers Association were unable to come to a decision on where cuts were to be made, the Board ultimately voted 3-2-1 to approve the new plan.

The approved plan means MCS is facing eight RIFs that includes six current open positions and two current certified positions (teachers), as well as the seven Board members taking a self-imposed 10 percent pay cut.

Markham opened the meeting with a statement explaining that MCS would not repurpose Manchester Intermediate School in Laketon for next year. That decision was made after information was released Friday, June 12 by the Indiana Department of Education that gave guidance for 100 percent funding for online and hybrid (partial online/partial traditional) learning due to COVID-19 related issues.

“Not [having to] repurpose MIS for next year will lessen the impact on tuition and support losses to attrition and cost-saving measures already in place and by utilizing RIF,” Markham said. “We feel that this will make adequate savings at this time and give us good direction until we receive more information from the state, depending on possible cuts down the road. We do know that the state revenues have been down and we should expect some guidance from them on the impact on K-12 schools in the near future.”

Later in the meeting Markham shared where the corporation was able to save as many as 15 or more jobs and keeping MIS in Laketon.

He first covered the financial shortfalls of MCS that included enrollment numbers declining over the past two years, COVID-19 impacts and the uncertainty of the number of students returning to a traditional school setting, and state funding impacts.

MCS has lost 113 students from September 2018 to September 2020 that represents a loss in funding over two years of $561,766.

Following a survey that looked at potential funding impact, MCS faced a possible loss of $528,804 funding for online/hybrid students, but that changed once the IDOE gave guidance on 100 percent funding.

Looking at considerations for cost reductions for the school system, $530.307 will be saved due to the shutdown and other areas such as transportation, maintenance, copying costs, utilities, insurance, and more, $223,849 will be saved by not replacing six current open positions (three classified and three certified), and two certified positions will be lost by RIF that will save $125,705, for a total savings of $879,941.

“We will continue to look at any position that becomes open, whether we need to fill those positions or not,” Markham said. “Obviously, if it is a certified position, we will consult with MTA.”

Markham went on to explain that MCS has other outstanding positions that they are evaluating and trying to figure out where some cost-saving measures may exist, but are not currently included in the plan.

The next MCS Board of Trustees monthly meeting will be Tuesday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at the Manchester  Administration Office building at 6 p.m.

Posted on 2020 Jun 23