Superintendent's reduction plan to make up for $20 million budget shortfall

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For months now Fayette County Public School leaders have been trying to figure out how to make up a $20 million budget shortfall. Superintendent Tom Shelton has made some recommendations for that which include some staff cuts.

With 66 schools and programs and 41,000 students, the Fayette County Public School System has a lot to protect and fund. The recent $20 million shortfall has been a bit of a setback but nothing the superintendent says his board can't handle.

"We just had to dig very deeply," said Supt. Tom Shelton. "We had to take a lot of input and really dig open the budget at its deepest level."

It was an informational session for the school board on Tuesday, proposing a reduction plan to come up with $20 million. One million dollars in state funding already got that number down to about $19.1 million. So the next question is how to make up that much more money in the budget?

"Are their areas that we can reduce that won't impact kids? And make sure that that's the focus," said Supt. Shelton.

Looking at reductions on both the district level and school level, Shelton says he has a plan that could work. Three of the adjustments affecting the central office include saving $1.6 million by cutting 50 of the 911 positions. The superintendent also says they can save $3.5 million in operational expenses and $2.6 million in work calendar reductions. Plus some other reductions, the central office would save $14.6 million.

"It's a difficult conversation, but I feel like our staff did a great job to achieve our objectives," said Supt. Shelton.

The reductions on the school level include cutting 61 of the 2,113 teacher positions, saving $3.7 million and cutting 30 of 642 staff positions, which saves $820,000. That all equals a grand savings of $4.5 million. Adding reductions between the central office and school level total to $19.1 million the school board needs to make up for.

The superintendent does not expect any of the reduction in positions, both teachers and at the central office, to be through layoffs. They are expected to be absorbed through attrition.

The superintendent hopes to have the final recommendation for a reduction plan in coming months.

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