Anna-Jonesboro High School is Facing Cuts

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By Sam Smith

UNION CO - A Union County high school is facing some tough budget decisions. A $170,000 deficit means some programs at Anna-Jonesboro High School could be on the chopping block.

Anna-Jonesboro High School is battling two financial problems; low enrollment and money they are owed from the state. The former they saw coming, the latter, Superintendent Jim Woodward admits, caught them off guard.

"When you throw in not receiving dollars that you thought you were going to get and also the decline in enrollments over the next couple of years. We are going to be losing more dollars that are not the state's fault, just based upon the enrollment factor," says Woodward.

The district lost $96,000 in general state aid and $140,000 in transportation for this school year. Forcing leaders to make some tough decisions.

"We are looking at speaking with the board, working with the union, we are looking at some ways to maybe cut back some expenses and without necessarily losing programs totally," says Woodward.

The school board will asses the pros and cons of all of the district's programs, nothing is off limits.

"Maybe where a program has four coaches, cutting it to three. Maybe cutting back some of the travel in some of the programs, look for other options in travel; different things like that," describes Woodward.

This is the first time in more than a decade the school board had to make cuts to programs, and this time around, leaders have a plan in place to make gradual changes over the next several years.

"Rather than just wait three years and have blown all of our money that deals with our reserves and sit there and say what are we going to do? We need to start looking at it now and we can always bring back programs if the dollars start changing," says Woodward.

State funding is tied to enrollment and Woodward expects enrollment numbers will eventually rebound. Also helping the situation, seven long time teachers will retire over the next two years, and lead to some savings on salaries.

The future of the those programs will be discussed during the next Anna Jonesboro High School board meeting on February 27.
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