The Liberty Local Schools Board of Education approved staff cuts for the fiscally emergent district to save more than $1.2 million.
The district will cut 16.5 positions, including a part-time art teacher, and will reduce 14 positions to part-time. The cuts will eliminate two administrative, four custodial, 7.5 teaching positions, one guidance position, and two library aides. Loss of the aides will limit library hours.
The board approved the cuts Jan. 23 and made specific information available the next day.
The administrative positions eliminated are a maintenance and transportation supervisor and a cafeteria and food-service supervisor. Seven full-time special education teacher's assistant positions will be reduced to part-time, as will four cafeteria positions and three office aides.
In October, representatives from the auditor of state's office certified the district's debt at $1.921 million. The district borrowed that amount in November to meet immediate budget shortfalls. They will have to begin repayments on half of that loan come July, when the next fiscal year commences.
The personnel cuts are effective July 1.
The school district already reduced administrative salaries by $150,000 before the school year began. The elimination of four teachers then saved Liberty $320,000.
Five retirees were replaced with new teachers at lower pay-grades, saving $146,000. One principal also left the district to work for the now-severed LEAD and LEARN Academies. As a result, Liberty was not obligated to pay a $30,000 severance.
An additional $100,000 of extra duty compensation brings the district's total savings for this fiscal year - with the new personnel cuts - up to $1.761 million.
This cushions the financial blow somewhat, district Treasurer Jim Wilson said.
"We looked at the five-year forecast. No one anticipated the revenues for next year, so that still leaves us with a debt," he said.
What is not cushioned is the personal blow that comes with personnel cuts.
"When you look past it as staff and positions and start attaching names to it, then it becomes a very difficult thing," Superintendent Stan Watson said.
"There are people who are losing their jobs or losing their benefits, and their families are turned upside down, and it's not an easy thing to do."
The cuts are still pending the approval of the Financial Planning and Supervision Committee, appointed by the state auditor to oversee the finances of school districts in fiscal emergency. That body will meet again Jan. 30.