VERMILION — The possibility of larger-than-expected budget cuts may force the Vermilion Schools to leave vacant the positions of retiring staff members.
The retirement of the librarian at Vermilion Elementary School at the end of this school year has prompted some to wonder whether or not the district plans to replace her. According to Superintendent Philip Pempin, the district isn’t sure.
“We’re looking at our staffing and seeing what our options are at this point,” Pempin said. “We don’t have a firm decision on how exactly we will do things there. I can tell you that there’s a library there and it will be utilized; books will be taken in and out of the library. We’re not shutting it down by any means.”
The district is looking at the possibility of a $1.2 million cut in funding from the state over the next two years. The possible cuts are the result of loss of enrollment, Pempin said.
“What people may not understand is that we may be looking at a potential budget cut that could be very challenging,” Pempin said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re hoping we’ll get some retirements — so we would have the option of not rehiring the position. That will save staff and not cause any layoffs.”
The district had been expecting a cut of $225,000 and had factored such a cut into its financial forecast through 2021. Recently though, the district learned the number could be closer to $600,000 per year.
Not replacing the librarian could mean that other staff members may have to split time between their teaching position and helping with the library, though Pempin said no plans have been made yet.
“We don’t know at this point,” he said. “There are too many things that are up in the air. We’re not trying to alarm the staff there, or anybody else, because we just don’t know.”
Pempin said the district hopes to receive the budget numbers from the state sometime in June, but he isn’t counting on that happening. He said the later the numbers come in, the later the district will have to make decision about any staffing changes.
The potential loss of the librarian at the school shouldn’t have much of an impact on the district’s ability to meet state mandates on third-grade literacy, Pempin said.
“I don’t believe this will affect our progress on that mandate,” he said. “I think every teacher in every subject is supposed to be working on literacy. Whether it’s physical education or music, they’re all working on that aspect of literacy.”