Looking for $1 million in school budget cuts has some people looking at the extra-curricular activities (ECAs) budget, particularly the ECA staff positions at the secondary level.
Clay Community School Corporation provides for 271 possible ECA programs for students to choose from throughout the school system.
The school corporation pays the wages of the advisory staff for academic ECAs, the band and guard ECA staffing and the sports coaches for the athletic department from the General Fund.
The General Fund is where the budget cuts have to be found.
"We have to find $1 million in budget cuts this year," said Clay Community School Board Member Terry Barr at the meeting on Feb. 17. "We have to make cuts in a fund that is 90 percent salaries and benefits for employees, most of which are negotiable only under contract. These items are not in our control."
The whole ECA Budget, elementary and secondary combined, for the 2004/05 school year is .009 percent of the General Fund.
Academic programs available at the secondary level make up only 12 percent of the 2004/05 ECA Budget. These ECA programs include class sponsorship and activities, student council, science, math and language clubs and various other educational activities made available for students.
Wages totaling $37,424.03 for these positions are small in comparison to staffing other high-cost ECA programs.
Providing athletic and band programs for students at North Clay Middle School, Northview High School and Clay City Jr/Sr High School generates the highest cost in the ECA Budget for the school corporation.
The cost to provide the coaching staff for athletic and cheerleading programs for the three schools is 68.69 percent of the 2004/05 secondary level ECA budget, or $248,733.16 in total wages.
The cost to provide the various band, winter guard and cadet corps staffing for the three schools is 14.38 percent of the ECA budget, or $52,078.82 in wages.
Some of these positions in sports and band overlap into the regular curricular of the school day, creating an area of confusion that makes decisions of staff cuts difficult. A person on staff at the Clay Community School Corporation could possibly perform required class duties during the normal school day, and then his or her ECA commitment afterwards in the same specialized area. Sometimes the ECA and the class instruction itself overlap.
The band program is probably the most confusing.
While participating in daily classroom instruction in band, a part of the school day, there are numerous after-school activities involving rehearsals and weekend contests that consume a major amount of time and dedication on the part of students and staff. The staff for both the teaching aspect in the classroom and the ECA are many times the same person.
This creates a problem in looking at the number and amount of staffing made available for these activities and determining their importance to the ECA or the curricular.
"It's time for fiscal responsibility," Barr has stated several times in public meetings, suggesting there are areas where cuts could be made in the staffing positions of the ECA budget. It is an issue that will continue to be discussed by the board and the public while making "some hard choices ahead."