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Stillwater school officials mulling cuts to budget

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ The elimination of 12 teaching positions and some support staff jobs are among the cuts that will have to made to the 2002-2003 budget for Stillwater public schools, officials say.

``We're making reductions pretty much across the board,'' Superintendent Walt Swanson said. ``These are difficult times.''

Stillwater is among other districts statewide having to make hard decisions because of a decrease in state funding to schools. The north-central Oklahoma district received $389,492 less than expected from January through May this year. Local revenue dropped as well, bringing the total shortfall to $624,000, Swanson said.

In the 2002-2003 school year, Swanson said he is expecting a $350,000 fall in local revenue and a $750,000 decline in state revenue because of declining enrollment.

The 5,470 students enrolled in the district in 1999 fell to 5,303 in the 2000-2001 school year. Enrollment for the upcoming school year is expected to be 5,109. Efforts to increase the numbers include early childhood and alternative education programs.

Swanson said the school's property insurance also is expected to more than double in coming months, increasing from $190,000 to $400,000. Swanson needs to cut $1.25 million to $1.4 million.

The plan is to reduce one or two support staff positions through attrition, Swanson said. There also will be changes in some support staff assignments.

All the changes could mean some salary adjustments, as well, he said. Library aides at the elementary school will work half time only, and teacher assistants will have their hours reduced. Swanson is hoping to use volunteers to fill in the gaps.

Meanwhile, the district will forgo some expenses such as not upgrading technology or buying buses.

Staff changes should save $600,000, while other cuts will add up to $700,000 or $750,000, Swanson said.

``The good news is we think we can preserve the integrity of our instructional program,'' he said.
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