FHN Takes on a Ten Percent Budget Reduction


By Priscilla Joel

After the expiration of the Special Purpose levy, FHSD has made $8.2 million worth of cuts to the district thus far in an effort to balance the budget. At FHN alone, many major and minor reductions have been made to reduce the building budget by 10 percent.

“We knew that we were going to begin to experience some deficit spending and so the long-term that was not going to be sustainable obviously, so we began with a retreat,” FHSD Superintendent Pamela Sloan said.

Unfortunately, the $8.2 million cuts that were made at the end of last year alone are not sufficient for a balanced budget for FHSD. A total of approximately $11 million must be cut from the FHSD budget by the fiscal year 2016-17 in order to balance the budget. The School Board has been meeting for the past couple of weeks to make decisions on the most suitable cuts for FHSD in the near future. However, the School Board made the decision last Thursday to make no further cuts for this current fiscal year.

Of the cuts that have already been made, before and after school tutoring for all subjects have been eliminated completely and there has been a reduction in staff members, supplies and materials for curriculum development. Furthermore, the allocation of funds for the new technological equipment that is replaced every few years has been put on hold as of press time.

“I think that it’s important that you’re truly thinking it out and I know that our Board of Education takes their jobs very seriously and I think that it makes sense to carefully think out what you’re doing,” FHN Principal Andy Downs said. “You don’t want to be hasty in the decision, you want to make the best possible decision that is supported by as much information and research that you can possibly do.”

One of the most immediate effects of eliminating tutoring are less opportunities for students to receive additional instruction on their homework. Additionally, in the future, if the total enrollment of students at FHN increased, there would be an increase in class sizes due to the reduction of staff members.

“I think that we’re trying to get our school district back to a point where the funding matches the programs that we have in place,” FHSD Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple said. “And I don’t think that our programs are overblown, but I do think they provide our kids with the best opportunities to be successful once they leave the Francis Howell School District.”

While the school year of 2015-16 is well under-way, FHN will still be facing additional cuts in the years to come. The School Board also voted to place another tax increase on the upcoming April ballot, so it is only a matter of time before more changes can be expected around FHN.

“I believe I responded to what the cut list represented and that simply was items that least impacted the classroom directly,” School Board President Mark Lafata said. “Although each item has an impact, we are trying to preserve the academic program currently in place.”