By LANCE MIHM
ST. MARYS — Moulton Elementary School will close at the
end of the school year, board of education members decided during
a Thursday night meeting.
The school closing is part of St. Marys’ budget reduction
plan, which in-cludes $3.6 million in cuts to begin July 1.
And if voters reject a 7.9-mill levy at the March ballot, board
members are saying they’ll have to cut another $5.1 million.
The closing of Moulton will save the school an estimated $1.2
million. Other cuts approved by the board Thursday were five
elementary aides, 1.5 library and teacher positions each, a
part-time secretary and summer student workers. Classroom cleaning
was reduced to every other day, and administrative staff took
a pay freeze, saving $167,000.
Other cuts included an optional preferred provider organization
health benefit program, eliminating the district newsletter,
cutting turf maintenance at the football field and no longer
providing transportation to West school for high school football
The original budget reduction proposal included cutting all-day,
every-day kindergarten, but board members decided to keep the
program in place. They also decided not to eliminate the high
school academy program, which helps at-risk students graduate,
but did say the program may be cut if future reductions need
to be made.
If the levy in March does not pass, estimated at bringing in
$1.8 million annually, the school faces much harsher cuts.
Board members said they will downsize busing and close Noble
Elementary School to save a total of $2.8 million.
Other proposed future cuts may be made in staffing, coaching
and art, music, physical education, consumer science and industrial
arts classes. Field trips would be eliminated, along with junior
high intramural programs and the academy program.
St. Marys Education Association President JoAnn Liming commented
at the meeting about residents asking the teachers to take a
“We know these are difficult financial times,” Liming
said. “It’s important that the community understand
that it is the final year in a three-year contract. The contract
negotiations were complex and not that easy. The teaching staff
gave significant cuts in its health coverage. We started to
help alleviate this debt when we negotiated this contract.”
Liming added a teacher’s pay raise was scheduled for September
15, not in April as had been commented at several other meetings.
Liming encouraged members of the community to support the levy.
Resident Lisa Wilson asked if the board would close Noble school
also in July. Board members said the elimination of both Moulton
and Noble could cause space problems.
“I’m wondering if you are not making the cuts seem
severe enough,” teacher Janis Dickerson said at the meeting.
“I’m wondering if the community will take us seriously.
I don’t see any community members here, only staff.”
About 80 were at the meeting.
“We’ve probably done too good of a job making things
work and not a good enough job explaining the educational sacrifices
we are making,” Superintendent Paul Blaine responded.
“People have to understand the problems we are facing
are not a spending problem. It is a funding problem.”
Due to cuts in state funding and increased costs, board members
are projecting an $8.7 million deficit by 2008 if the March
levy does not pass.
Tammy Smith, a resident who moved to St. Marys recently, said
she was devastated when the first attempt at getting a new levy
failed in November.
“I moved here and bought a home here because I believed
in this town,” Smith said. “I invested in this town
and it was a huge letdown. My kids are the ones who are going
to suffer from this. I’ve never been in a town where the
people don’t support the schools. If people get behind
football, they better get behind their kids. If it takes cutting
sports as a threat, so be it.”
“We don’t want to yield that club,” board
member Rees McKee responded. “We still have to maintain
the possible education we can with the funds that are available.”