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GCCS Superintendent Mark Laughner speaks to media on the district's opening day on July 29, 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Greater Clark County Schools Superintendent Mark Laughner wants to slash more than $6 million from the district’s budget through two school closures and staffing changes, including outsourcing maintenance and custodial work.

The district’s proposal, set to be presented during a school board meeting Thursday, envisions closing Bridgepoint Elementary and Corden Porter schools and revives a previous plan to eliminate most certified teachers from elementary school classes like art, music, media and technology, and physical education.

The spending plan also calls for cutting certified staff through attrition, completely outsourcing maintenance and custodial work and eliminating 12 bus routes, according to a school board presentation. In all, the district expects to save nearly $6.2 million from the proposed spending changes.

"There will still be art, music, P.E. and all those things," Laughner said during Tuesday night's school board meeting. "We're not eliminating bus routes. We're not going to make kids walk to school. We are trying to become more efficient."

GCCS previously declined an interview request, saying Laughner will be available to discuss the plan after Thursday’s meeting.

Closing Bridgepoint Elementary is expected to save the district $800,000. About 200 students would be redistricted to Franklin Square Elementary and 110 would be sent to Riverside Elementary, according to the district’s presentation.

Affected employees at Bridgepoint Elementary will be reassigned through attrition, with some transitioning to Franklin Square and Riverside based on current staffing formulas for elementary schools if the budget plan is approved.

“This will result in the elimination of multiple certified and classified positions including principal, clerical, teachers, paraeducators, custodians, and other support staff,” the budget presentation says.

GCCS anticipates saving $500,000 per year if Corden Porter is closed, with Jeffersonville High, River Valley Middle and Parkview Middle schools slated to absorb the school’s programs. Such a decision would cut a principal, an administrative assistant, two teachers, six paraeducators, a counselor and a behavior intervention coordinator from the district’s personnel, though one teaching and four paraeducator positions are currently unfilled, according to the district’s presentation.

Hiring a private company to handle custodial and maintenance work is expected to save GCCS at least $800,000, though that amount could be “substantially higher” based on the district’s personnel expenses.

GCCS also wants to cut certified positions through attrition, potentially saving $347,000 throughout the district, and eliminate five classified positions to save $174,000 annually, according to the presentation. Reducing the number of paraeducator positions in GCCS is expected to save $300,000 per year, the presentation says.

The district also hopes to consolidate 12 bus routes to save nearly $500,000 per year. The move will add up to 15 minutes for bus riding time for students in the Jeffersonville area and better align “feeder” elementary school to Parkview Middle and River Valley Middle, according to Thursday’s presentation.

The budget proposal also resuscitates a 2019 plan to largely cut certification requirements for related arts classes in GCCS elementary schools, instead leaving one certified teacher per building to provide greater staffing flexibility. It would also create four related arts coordinator positions, with 19 related arts specialists tasked with delivering instruction.

The proposal, expected to save $630,000 per year, drew criticism from GCCS parents and teachers when it was initially proposed in 2019.

"Our related arts teachers are once again in the crosshairs for being phased out," said Mark Felix, president of Greater Clark's teachers union. "Thanks to our state legislature, we seem to end up here fighting for scraps year after year."

The district also anticipates saving at least $523,833 in energy expenses as part of its budget reduction plan.

A group of parents launched an online petition that asks the school district to offer alternative options for cuts and seek more community feedback.

"We want a voice. We want a choice," GCCS parent Donna Reed said. "We're not saying that there aren't cuts that are necessary to be made, but please engage us in that process because we have valuable feedback."

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