A respectful crowd of 85 parents and district activists filled seats at Vashon High School Monday night seeking some clarity on the 2011-2012 budget for the St. Louis Public Schools.
Kelvin Adams, the district's superintendent, says he understands the concerns participants expressed about the financial situation of the district. The budget numbers are not nearly as bleak as last year, when the district had to eliminate 500 positions, including some through layoffs, and shutter six schools to close a $57 million gap.
But the spending plan for next school year does include cuts to transportation and support staff. Some of those cuts to parent educators and supplemental teachers are due to the loss of federal stimulus dollars.
And those cuts bothered Donna Jones, the vice president of the currently-defunct elected school board.
"A lot of our students are having some really serious issues like alcoholism, drug abuse, not having anyone at home, and we don't have the people that come and follow through," she said.
Adams said he's evaluating ways to increase transportation spending and keep librarians, rather than just library aides, at some schools.
"But at the end of the day, there are a limited number of dollars, and we can only spend those dollars one way," he said.
The 2011-2012 school year also marks the first time that principals will control staffing levels at their schools. Adams said he is working with those principals to ensure they feel comfortable with the process, though he acknowledged the funding may not be there for everything they feel they need.
Online comments will be accepted until May 16. Adams hopes for a final vote on May 26.