Times Leader Saturday, March 25, 2017
T-L Photo/DYLAN MCKENZIE Fifth-grade teacher Kellie Cusick leads her class at Bellaire Middle School on Friday.
BELLAIRE — By the end of April the Bellaire Local School District should be free of fiscal emergency status and external oversight, Superintendent Darren Jenkins said.
The next meeting of the Fiscal Planning and Supervision Commission for Bellaire is expected to occur during the second half of April, and Jenkins anticipates the board will approve the district’s release from fiscal emergency. Jenkins and district Treasurer Cathy Moore said the primary reason the district’s finances got in such bad shape was a tremendous drop in the student population in the district.
In 1994 there were more than 3,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade; by 2004 that number had dropped to 1,600. The latest count found 1,300 students in 2016.
Losing more than half of its students meant the district did not need as many teachers and staff, but making those cuts was not an easy proposition, according to Jenkins. From 2010-2016 five administrators, 38 teachers, 18 classified personnel and one school resource officer were eliminated from the employment roles. The reductions resulted in $5.4 million in savings, Moore said, and they occurred through a combination of position eliminations and retirements.
The district achieved an additional $2.3 million in savings from improved business practices, including health insurance adjustments.