Looking to lop at least $1 million in spending from its budget, Indiana Area School District is considering a package of high school curriculum changes that would allow for staff reductions, aside from studying a reorganization of its four elementary schools.
The school board is to vote on whether to adopt an elementary school reorganization plan on Oct. 28. Subsequent to that, the board is to begin introducing motions on the curriculum changes at a meeting on Nov. 12.
There is no specific proposal for those changes on the table yet; the board is weighing options and looking for public input. But generally, it is considering a reduction in the number of credits required for graduation, changing or eliminating elective courses, increasing class sizes and adjusting the daily schedule.
Superintendent Dale Kirsch said none of those options alone will produce the savings the school district is trying to come up with for the 2014-15 school year. And, he said, there are limits to how aggressive the district can be before it begins to impair the education it offers, he said.
So the likely outcome will be a plan that provides for a mix of those actions, he said.
One of the most significant suggestions is to change the graduation requirements — the board will be looking at reducing the number of credits needed in English, social studies, sciences and physical education. Students currently are required to obtain four credits of English and social studies, and three in science and physical education.
Kirsch said there might be room to reduce the English and social studies requirements to three credits, the science requirement to two credits and the physical education requirement to one credit. But he said any moves along those lines would have to be weighed against the district’s ability to provide a “premier” education, something it’s mandated to do in its vision statement.
As for electives, Kirsch said the district could offer fewer courses or course sections in family and consumer sciences and business, computers and information technology; move the technology education program to the elementary schools or eliminate it entirely; or shift foreign language studies to the elementary schools.
Additionally, the district could make a schedule adjustment such that there would be one common study hall period, but that would necessitate eliminating English labs and math labs, Kirsch said.
Between the school reorganization plan and curriculum changes, Kirsch said the goal is to reduce spending by $1 million to $1.5 million, an amount equal to 10 to 15 staff positions.
And regrettably, the payroll is the only remaining place from which to trim, Kirsch said. Other areas in the budget have already been cut to the point that they are being underfunded, he said.