Easton Schools Could Cut 56 Jobs

School board talks budget cuts as superintendent presents 5-year plan that involves possible school closures.

The Easton Area School District is proposing cutting 56 teaching jobs in order to help plug a nearly $5 million hole in the 2014-2015 budget.

That's just in the short term. At the same meeting Tuesday night when the job cut plan was introduced, Superintendent John Reinhart also presented a five-year cost savings plan that included the possibility of closing at least one elementary school.

These discussions are happening in the shadow of two decades of tax increases for Easton area residents, three years of job cuts, and a future that shows the district dealing with more deficits.

"We have to come up with some bold ideas," Reinhart said. "We can’t sit and debate why we’re here and what brought us here and who brought us here. None of that is going to get us out of these circumstances.”

Budget figures show the district taking in a little more than $136 million for 2014/2015 but spending $141 million.

In order to close that gap, the district is considering a 2.7 percent tax increase, as well as cutting positions.

Those jobs include:

  • Three instrumental music positions in grades 4-8. (This would essentially eliminate music instruction for those grades.)
  • 18 high school and middle school positions.
  • Four gifted/English as second language positions
  • Seven positions in the intervention department
  • Eight special education positions.
  • 16 elementary positions
The number of job cuts could go down if the school board agrees to a higher tax increase, under the state's referendum exception rule. The board will make that decision at its Jan. 28 meeting.

“It will be…I won’t say impossible, but it will be very difficult to convince me to vote for anything less than the referendum," board member Baron Vanderberg said. "Fifty-six cuts is a lot. More than I’d like to see."

Meanwhile, Reinhart outlined some measures he wants the district to explore over the next five years, including:

  • Closing at least one elementary school.
  • Looking at a pay-to-play system for sports and extracurricular activities.
  • The future of the Easton Area Academy, which could potentially be moved into one of the closed elementary buildings.
  • Selling the district administration building and surrounding property.
  • Outsourcing some transportation and food service work.
  • Advertising on district buses and buildings.
School board member William Rider said he has been proposing the idea of consolidating district buildings for the last two years.

"If we go through the buildings, we realize some of the buildings have a lot of empty room, a lot of empty seats," he said.

Maria Padula-Larsen January 14, 2014 at 10:26 PM
Here is an idea for y'all how about letting some of the higher ups at 1801 out, I bet that would save a ton of the o'mighty green!! I'm about to bust with my taxes and y'all are looking at a 2.7 tax increase, come on now.... My father built the house I live in and I WILL not lose it to higher taxes. And I will be damned if I will sell it either because y'all can't come up with something better.
Richard January 15, 2014 at 06:35 AM
Sounds like there working on it.
Ronnie DelBacco January 15, 2014 at 08:25 AM
Where are the administrative cuts?? Assistant Principles, and their subsequent office staff?? Is the board ready to take a serious stand against unreasonable pay increases, the step and column program, and the amount the district pays towards benefits ...all with the EAEA? I doubt it. In the private sector the tax payers are suffering, but the public sector union thugs just keep pushing their agenda and rolling over the board. Perhaps if all the board members, including the president, were required to actually own property they might have a different perspective on what Tax payers go through each time they do this to us. And another solid idea might be to restrict board membership to residents who have not been and are not now members of private POLITICAL organizations like the EAEA.
richard traylor January 15, 2014 at 09:42 AM
As much as I am not against anyone securing their future, the public service industry might as well accept what the private sector has had to in years past, the end of pension plans as we know it. In public and private sectors, we will always have high paid administrative personnel and what appears to be an abundance of upper level personnel too. The pension plans, as a great benefit to retired people, tend to strangle future budgets year after year with people living longer. If you look at what a person contributes from their paycheck and what the payback is after retirement, it amounts to a pretty sweet deal. Too sweet for the yearly budget to afford anymore. With the loss of it from most of private industry, pensions will require disappearing or the next thing you will see is a drastic disappearance in the near future of physical schools and the people to man them. Consider the number of people that have taken college courses at home via computer. With the number of good paying jobs dwindling and the number of adults now staying home, it only stands to reason that you will have a parent home schooling their children with the home computer and even less requirement of the public to provide a facility and faculty to give those kids a school environment and education. With the age of electronics and kids that are permanently connected to their electronic devices, we will see a transition from the old standard of schools, teachers, school buses, and a formal school room setting. Think that's a pipe dream? Consider thirty years ago when teenagers didn't sit across from each other texting their communication with each other instead of actually talking? Is it any wonder why they have morphed into anti social behavior and why they could adapt so well to a computer based home school environment?


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