Ashland schools avoid layoffs

ASHLAND — The Ashland School Board has agreed to cut $1.1 million from the district's general fund budget for the next academic year to offset a state funding shortfall.

The $24.8 million general fund budget means the district will cut spending on textbooks, defer maintenance projects and not hire three kindergarten teachers.

"One thing that we feel good about is that we were able to respond to the shortfall in revenue without laying anyone off and we still, at this point, have a full school year next year," Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

In May, administrators said they planned to cut $700,000 from the general fund budget and use $600,000 from the district's savings to cover an expected $1.1 million gap in state funding.

But this month, district officials discovered it would be possible to cut the entire $1.1 million from the budget, Di Chiro said.

"When we first looked at it, we thought, we don't know if we can find that level of savings," she said. "In going through, we were able to identify the $1.1 million."

That leaves nearly $1.5 million in the district's reserves. That could be important in the following academic year, because state funding could plummet again, Di Chiro said.

This month the district concluded it had about $500,000 more in its health insurance and retirement funds than first thought, after recalculating the amounts to more accurately reflect the number of employees, she said.

The rest of the $1.1 million came from reducing spending on textbooks, technology, school supplies and maintenance, as well as declining to hire the three kindergarten teachers.

Not hiring the teachers saved the district about $210,000. The district gained about $86,000 by cutting spending on school supplies by 10 percent across the board and 15 percent in specific areas. Spending on textbooks was reduced by $10,000.

Deferring some maintenance projects saved the district about $60,000.

"I feel really fortunate that we're not having to lay anybody off or cut anybody's hours back," School Board member Carol Davis said. "We were lucky because we had other places we could cut."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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