Summit Schools cut $867,000 from next school year’s budget |

Summit Schools cut $867,000 from next school year’s budget

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SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit School Board completed a grim task Tuesday night in cutting $867,000 from local schools. The slow economy and reduced state tax revenues forced the board’s hand, with impacts to everything from academic programs to athletics to teacher pay next year.

“This is not my favorite day,” said Summit School Board President Jon Kreamelmeyer, as he cast his vote.

The board approved the 2010-2011 budget revisions unanimously, if begrudgingly, lamenting the reduction in resources to the community’s public education system.

Assistant superintendent Karen Strakbein provided a bit of good financial news at the meeting’s outset, allowing the district to steer clear of a proposed districtwide staff reduction of 3.3 percent. The district’s employee health insurance program performed better than expected this year, thus reducing monthly premiums for next year. The cost to both employees and the school district will go down. The district will also eliminate all contributions toward health insurance premiums for employees’ spouses and children. The subsidy elimination for dependents and the reduced premium costs will together reduce the district’s overall health insurance costs by $301,000.

The board cut Summit High School and Summit Middle School athletics expenses for next year by 5 percent. At Summit Middle School, the reduction will play out across all sports and programs. At Summit High School, the cut will result in the elimination of boys’ swimming and diving and girls’ tennis. The boys’ aquatics program suffered from low participation levels, placing it high on the list of sports to cut. Girls’ tennis ended up on the list primarily because the school district has no indoor facilities for the athletes, requiring the team to rent time on indoor courts when outdoor courts are covered with snow for most of the season.

“I can tell you this was not an easy chore,” Kreamelmeyer said of the programs’ elimination. “Just because a sport is eliminated now doesn’t mean it can’t come back. But at this point in time, that’s kind of where we are.”

The board opted to hike school lunch prices by 25 cents, rather than by the originally proposed 50 cents.

Elementary teachers won’t have access to stipends for after-school planning associated with the International Baccalaureate program next year. The cut saves the district $52,000. But according to superintendent Millie Hamner, teachers said time is more of an issue than money in such planning efforts.

The board made cuts to next year’s budget based on the assumption of a districtwide salary freeze – meaning teachers would not receive scheduled pay increases for seniority or advanced education credits. But the district has not yet reached that deal through contract negotiations with teachers. Any salary increases for staff would mean the board would have to look elsewhere for additional cuts.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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