Superintendent Lays Out Specifics for Levy-Related Reductions
March 15, 2023
Forest Hills School District Superintendent Larry Hook provided a more detailed outline of two phases of reductions related to the May 2, 2023 levy at Wednesday night’s Board of Education Meeting. This presentation outlined specific programs, positions, subject areas and departments that will be impacted. You can view Superintendent Hook’s slideshow here or watch the meeting here.
Phase 1 contains approximately $750,000 in immediate reductions that will be implemented at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. These involve reductions of staff members at Central Office, certified staff positions and other items that are detailed below.
Phase 2 contains approximately $1.8 million in reductions that will need to take place prior to the start of the 2023-2024 school year if the May levy does not pass. The amount of reductions in this phase is based on current levels of deficit spending and what would be necessary to delay a potential negative cash balance. Superintendent Hook provided an updated estimate during the March meeting to indicate these reductions will include 15 certified staff members and total $1.8 million. At the February meeting, “as many as 17” certified staff members were discussed and the estimated total was $1.6 million. These figures were updated to reflect more accurate details that FHSD has finalized over the past month.
The 6.9 mill combination levy includes a 5.4 mill operating levy and a 1.5 mill permanent improvement levy. More details about what kinds of things those levies will fund and their cost to taxpayers can be found at the district’s informational levy webpage here: https://www.foresthills.edu/levy.html
To learn more about the phased reduction plan described in this story, you can read a recap of Superintendent Hook’s presentation at the February Board meeting here. The updated specifics are provided below.
Phase 1 Updates
Phase 1 reductions are part of FHSD’s effort to meet its obligation to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and they also allowed the May levy request to be lower than otherwise possible. The goal of these initial reductions is to reduce costs with a limited impact on student learning.
Secondary Certified Staff
The three areas where reductions have been identified are ELA, science and world language. This will lead to an increase in average class sizes for impacted courses/departments at both high schools.
Elementary Certified Staff
The two support positions that will be reduced during Phase 1 are an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and a Reading Specialist. This leads to reduced opportunities for students to receive intervention support and specialized resources.
Phase 2 Updates
Phase 2 reductions, which will be necessary if the May levy does not pass, involve approximately $1.8 million in different areas to comply with FHSD Board Policy that requires a cash balance equaling 10% of the operating budget or more. These reductions will have a direct impact on classroom instruction, transportation and extracurricular activities.
Superintendent Hook provided specifics in terms of adjusted arrival and dismissal times. Under Phase 2, these would change at all schools to accommodate a reduction of bus operators, routes and corresponding maintenance/fuel costs.
Anderson & Turpin
Current: 8:00 a.m. - 2:40 p.m.
New: 7:35 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Current: 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
New: 8:10 a.m. - 2:55 p.m.
Elementary Early (Sherwood*, Summit, Wilson)
Current: 9:15 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
New: 8:55 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.
Elementary Late (Ayer, Maddux, Mercer)
Current: 9:15 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
New: 9:25 a.m. - 3:55 p.m.
*Arrival/dismissal times for FHSD Preschool at Sherwood are TBD.
Note: These times are based on tentative adjustments to bus routes and could change minimally based on actual implementation.
Certified Staff Positions
Superintendent Hook identified specific subject areas and positions that will be eliminated as part of Phase 2 reductions, should the combination levy not pass in May.
|Case Coordinators - Secondary (2 positions)||Less responsive oversight to special education programs and services. Impact on other administrative responsibilities (discipline and supervision, testing, scheduling etc.) that may not receive the same level of attention.|
|Gifted Specialists - Elementary
|Three remaining Gifted Specialists will support two buildings each. Pull-out Gifted instruction will happen less often across all elementary schools with potential reduction in grade level model.|
|Media Specialists - Elementary
|Reduced certified instructional time related to media, innovation, STEM and digital citizenship. The three reductions are offset by support roles needed to supervise students on a rotation model.|
|Music Education - K-12
|Reduced opportunities for instruction in music performance at the elementary level. Impact on class sizes, course offerings in music programs at the secondary level.|
|Reading Specialists - Elementary
|Reduced access to reading intervention for students. Increased caseload for remaining Reading Specialists.|
|Teaching Positions - Secondary
|Increase in average class size for math, social studies and world language courses at both high schools. Some teachers will need to travel between AHS and THS to balance offerings.|
Phase 2 reductions will likely cause an increase of average class sizes in listed subject areas at the secondary level. They also limit FHSD’s ability to align and collaborate between buildings to deliver current levels of personalized learning and curriculum to students across all grade levels.
Additionally, Phase 2 would have a direct impact on support services for students. Fewer students will be able to receive intervention services from a reading specialist. The elementary gifted program will have to be redesigned, including less pull-out instruction and potential restructuring of grade level delivery. Dedicated case coordinators are reduced at the secondary level, shifting some special education responsibilities to other employees and administrators.