Hale Area Schools cuts deficit by close to $500,000
HALE — After years of battling a growing deficit, Hale Area Schools is now on track to be out of debt by the end of the 2012-13 school year.
At the Hale School Board’s regular meeting Sept. 10, the district received the results of its audit for the 2011-12 school year, and received some very positive news as the district learned it reduced its deficit from $753,000 to $257,000 during the last school year.
With the district currently in year two of its two-year deficit-elimination program, the district had to be out of deficit by the end of this school year. With Monday’s audit report, district superintendent Ron Kraft said the district is now on track to meet that goal.
“Obviously, it’s very positive news,” Kraft said. “When we can make the movement over time that we’ve made here, it’s phenomenal.”
Kraft said he’s heard rumors of the school having to shut down if the deficit wasn’t reduced, but he said none of those rumors are true.
“Bottom line, this school is not closing down,” Kraft said. “We’re going to make it no matter what. The board and I stepped into a tough situation, but we’re making our way out of it.”
While the deficit reduction is positive news for the district, the school had to find ways to help cut cost.
One of the biggest areas the school cut costs last year was in teacher salaries and benefits. According to the audit, the district’s spending on teacher salaries went down $828,000 and spending on benefits dropped $441,000.
Like many districts having to make tough choices, Kraft said it’s almost impossible to not have to make tough decisions.
“There isn’t anybody who doesn’t have to downsize anymore,” Kraft said. “But I don’t believe it’s downsizing. I call it right-sizing, because we’re making our program fit to the kids we have. Everyone is working together and has made sacrifices to help us move forward.”
The auditor who reported the results at the meeting said the district’s ability to cut the deficit by almost half a million dollars was “outstanding,” and credited the board and the staff at the school for working together.
“Our agenda needs to be serving our students,” Kraft said. “The board and I and other staff may not always agree on things, but there’s a high level of respect there and it takes all of us to get us to where we’re moving in the right direction.”