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Granite School District seeks to plug $17 million budget hole

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SALT LAKE CITY — Granite School District took one more step toward finalizing plans to meet its $17 million budget shortfall Tuesday when the board approved the superintendent's recommendations.

While the teaching faculty in the district can breathe easier with a recommendation of no cuts to positions, other departments have not escaped the cuts unscathed.

The district will lose 30 positions, with the maintenance department taking the hardest hit — losing 11 employees.

Though those 11 positions were recommended to be cut, the school board boasted that the plan does not cut a single career position.

Superintendent Stephen Ronnenkamp continually noted the difficulty he faced in making any cuts, adding that the decisions he recommended were not easy.

Parents and employees of Granite were asked for input on which programs and positions should stay and which could go. The largest concern among parents was increasing class sizes, which was reflected in the superintendent's recommendation.

Ronnenkamp's goals were to "balance the budget without touching the classroom," something he said he felt he accomplished when he looked at the possible cuts.

Hourly employees who have worked in the district less than three years took a major hit in the recommendation. All employees paid hourly who have been in the district for less than three years would be required to cut back to 19 hours per week.

One group of hourly employees that would be affected by the cuts, media assistants working in Granite school libraries, filled rows of chairs at Tuesday's meeting. Many of them attended the meeting thinking that all media aides would be cut to 19 hours, even those with many years of service with the district.

"We were very concerned when we came tonight," said Joyce Sampson, a 19-year media aide, "because it was our understanding that all media aides — no matter how long we've been here and no matter how many hours we had — would be cut to 19."

Of the 70 library aides employed in Granite, approximately 12 would be affected by the limited hours. Changing from 30 hours to 19 would allow the school district to avoid paying for extra retirement funds but maintain library services to schools.

A public hearing will take place June 15, two weeks before the board is expected to make its final decision.

e-mail: gbarker@desnews.com