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Indian River district administration proposes 30 hires

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PHILADELPHIA — Because the Indian River Central School District is expecting an enrollment boom and has $2 million more in the fund balance than last year, the administration wants to hire 30 staff members.

During the Board of Education meeting Thursday, Superintendent James Kettrick and Assistant Superintendent Mary Anne Dobmeier proposed spending nearly $2.5 million in the 2013-14 budget for personnel, textbooks, the theater and library.

“You’re faced with a fund balance in excess of anything you’ve had before,” Mr. Kettrick said. “You find yourself in a rather extraordinary position.”

To keep receiving federal heavy-impact aid — money given to support schools that enroll students from military bases — the district must both keep per-pupil spending at or below the state average and keep only 4 percent of its money in an unassigned fund balance.

Having more than 50 percent military-based enrollment is only one part of receiving heavy-impact aid.

“As Mr. Koch said, it’s a shot in the dark,” Mr. Kettrick said.

Some of the new positions requested included another assistant superintendent to handle the state’s newly required Common Core curriculum and science-technology-engineering-and math classes, a primary school health teacher, adding four middle school teachers and adding 11 primary and intermediate school teachers.

These proposed hires come only eight years from the 2005-06 budget when the district lost $5 million in federal heavy-impact aid, slashing 50 staff and faculty positions. And it has only been six years since the district had to hike its tax levy by 19 percent and cut 14.5 teaching positions.

“I would think the state as a whole is hurting for money,” said board member Donald L. Brumfield.

If per-pupil expenditures go down in the state but increase at Indian River Central School, he said, the district would not meet the requirements for heavy-impact aid.

Mr. Brumfield said if the district had money, it should be used to put Smartboards in every classroom.

Other board members were also concerned about some of the hires proposed.

“We’re always being accused of being too top-heavy,” said Thomas J. Lapp. “I’m not saying Mary Anne doesn’t need help.”

He said he wanted to find out what other districts of similar size were doing before hiring another assistant superintendent.

Some board members agreed a curriculum coordinator would be a better hire.

Peter D. Shue worried about where the district would put four additional middle school teachers to constitute another teaching team.

“The space, is that not a concern for where to put those people?” he asked.

Linda M. Capone said she wanted to see proof the two math coaches from the Department of Defense Education Activity grant the primary schools have been working with have helped improved math scores before the district rehires them and hires a third coach.

“Tough but fair,” Mr. Kettrick said.

The administration also proposed spending $153,000 on textbooks, $142,200 on libraries and about $29,000 for contractual agreements and supplies in the theater program.

The information technology, health care and revenues budget proposals will be discussed at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 7.

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