Likely state budget cuts are not forcing the Smyrna School District to lay off any staff members, but open positions will remain vacant for now.

Likely state budget cuts are not forcing the Smyrna School District to lay off any staff members, but open positions will remain vacant for now, school administrators said at the May 14 meeting of the Smyrna School Board.

All of the professional teaching was were re-hired on May 15, with the exception of a “couple of staff members due to certification issues,” said Assistant Superintendent Buddy Lloyd.

There are, however, six vacant positions that will not be filled until the state budget is approved at the end of June: one associate principal, one counselor, and four elementary teachers.

“We are being very cautious until we see what’s going on with the legislature and the final budget,” Lloyd said. “At this point, we’re not going to fill any positions until we see what happens at the end of June.”

If the associate principal position, left vacant because of North Elementary Associate Principal David Morrison’s May 14 appointment as principal of Smyrna Elementary School, is not filled, administrative support may be available from other associate principals in the district, Lloyd said.

The counselor opening was created when Pat VanVeen, counselor at Smyrna Elementary School, was approved to move to Sunnyside Elementary when it opens in the fall. If another counselor cannot be hired for Smyrna Elementary, “he would be shared between the two schools,” Lloyd said.

“I’m hoping we won’t have to do that, and I’m optimistic that we won’t have to do that,” Lloyd said. “Not knowing what the final budget is going to be from the state level, we’re just being cautious.”

If the four elementary teachers are not replaced, it could mean larger class sizes.

“By waiting until the end of June, we will know what’s going on with the budget and we’ll know more accurately our enrollment numbers,” Lloyd said. “We’re going to provide the best service we can to our students while being responsible as to the budget.”

Gallagher makes financial report

District Finance Director Jerry Gallagher said he plans to present a preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year at the June meeting, although he will not know the extent of budget cuts until the state budget is approved at the end of June.

“We’re playing with a little bit of uncertainty as we go through,” he said.

In the meantime, the district is being conservative, stockpiling supplies, and “using money with an eye toward next year,” Gallagher said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty in what next year is going to entail,” Gallagher said. “For the current year, things are looking very well for the district. We are running under budget.”

Morrison appointed principal in 3-1 vote

In other board news, several personnel changes were approved at the May 14 meeting, including the appointment of David Morrison as the principal of Smyrna Elementary School for the 2008-09 school year. Current Principal Dr. Kathleen Andrus has been approved as the district’s new Supervisor of Special Services.

Board President Lynne Newlin was the sole board member voting against the appointment of Morrison, who currently serves as associate principal of North Elementary School. Newlin did not give a reason for her vote.

Board Member Ron Eby, who said he is a relative of Morrison, abstained.

Principals present plan for Class of 2012

Smyrna High School Principal Tony Soligo and Associate Principals Elyse Baerga and Steven Gott presented scheduling and logistical plans for next year’s ninth graders, who will spend their freshman year at Smyrna Middle School.

In addition to the teachers who will move to the middle school next year, seven teachers will be shared between the middle and high schools. Also, students in the Class of 2012 will split their time between the two schools; any ninth grade classes at the high school will be offered the first and last periods of the day. Ninth graders will then be at the middle school during the middle of the day, easing transportation concerns and alleviating overcrowding in the high school cafeteria. 

Baerga said the Class of 2012 will have the same opportunities available to them as the classes before them.

“I want to make sure every ninth grader gets every pathway afforded to them,” said Newlin, who has a son in the class of 2012. “I want to make sure they have every opportunity a freshman at the high school has.”

They will, Baerga assured.

“As a parent of a freshman, I appreciate all the work that went into this,” said Board Member Chris Malec. “It’s not perfect, but sometimes you’ve got to roll with the punches.”

School choice students accepted

In a 4-1 vote, the board accepted two inter-district and eight intra-district transfer students for the 2008-09 school year.

Newlin voted against the request. Newlin has consistently opposed intra-district transfers to Sunnyside Elementary School, even in the case of daycare needs.

The remainder of the board agreed to wait until July to vote on school choice requests to Sunnyside, except in cases where the parent works for the district or in cases of daycare transportation issues. Board members and administrators are hesitant to allow open school choice to Sunnyside because of the effects on staff and funding.

“We decided to wait until July for the non-daycare people who just want to go there,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd said there have been 10 requests to attend Sunnyside filed so far, roughly two in each grade.

Field trip approved

The board approved a Smyrna High School field trip to the National FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America) Conference in Orlando, Fla., July 11-18.

Scholarship recipients chosen

The board approved the recipients of the Lofland, VanGasken, and Stephanie & Francis Hawke scholarships. The names of the students will be announced at the Senior Awards Convocation on May 29.