PTS avoids state-wide economic struggle with budgets
Strict budget cuts have schools around Northwest Indiana laying off teachers and cutting pay. , Portage has stayed out of the red zone.
“We realized that the economy had changed and school funding would never be the same,” Director of Finance Sharon Qualkenbush said.
Fellow Duneland Athletic Conference school Lake Central faced over $3.5 million in budget cuts in early 2012 that resulted in eliminating teacher and staff positions in the school corporation. Valparaiso school corporations followed suit with $2 million in budget cuts that started in February of this year.
According to Ball State University’s daily news, the number of Indiana’s public school teachers dropped nearly four percent in the last three years.
However, Portage took steps to prevent this.
Supply budgets were reduced, vacated positions were evaluated prior to hiring replacement staff (such as having teachers accept additional duties), employees were not given yearly raises, teachers were offered an early retirement incentive and the district transferred health insurance coverage from a self-funded insurance program to a fully insured program throughout Indiana, saving a substantial amount of money.
All these steps have kept Portage out of the pit that fellow schools like Lake Central and Valparaiso have fallen into with the million dollars in cuts they had to make.
“We made the cuts early so we were able to live within our means. This was not a popular action, but now I think that the employees understand that there was a legitimate reason for our actions,” Qualkenbush said.