Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 13, 2013

Altamont school district looking ahead as cuts made

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

ALTAMONT — Altamont school board made a few more reductions in staff at its meeting Monday night, although some might be rehired next year as needed.

The board approved cutting six teacher aides/bus aides and the district's psychologist. The district's full-time social worker was also reduced to four-fifths time.

Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch said there is a chance that some of those teacher aides may return before the beginning of next school year.

"We don't know the need for special aid or enrollment, and we won't know until the first part of July," he said. "The number of students with special education needs has leveled off as well."

Fritchtnitch said the board made during its February meeting  the majority of the cuts necessary to maintain financial viability, but further cuts are being made. The district's work weekend on the first Saturday of the month allowed the board an opportunity to take a look at possible places to make further cuts.

"We made some cuts at the work weekend but nothing too significant," Fritchtnitch said. "We're looking to not carry as much overhead, and we're doing the same thing with maintenance overhead. We're getting pretty close to bare bones."

While cuts were made at the work weekend, Fritchtnitch said the main purpose of the weekend was making plans for the future of the district.

"It's always a very productive weekend," Fritchtnitch said. "It's a long day, but it's a good really rich day. We go over the board's goals and the district's goals, and we get into strategic planning. The board has their goals, and they'll vote on those in April."

Fritchtnitch said the district is planning on continuing its integration of technology into the classroom, as well as sustain the district's financial future if continued cuts in state aid are on the horizon.

"One of the big questions across the state is how do we survive financially," he said. "One of the major discussions we had is to not let something happen to us. If the state wants us to consolidate, we'll start talking to our neighbors and other districts and other superintendents.

"It's not because we're sitting in the ocean and drowning. It's because the governor's budget could have us all drowning."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.