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Board of Ed Makes Additional Cuts to 2011-2012 Budget

The Board of Education discussed reallocation of the 2011-2012 budget Monday night to meet the Board of Representative’s request of a $339,000 reduction.

The Board of Education met for a special meeting Monday night to reallocate the 2011-2012 budget for which was approved at $229.6 million by the Board of Finance last month and needed to be sliced by an additional $339,000. The board looked at administrative salaries, health insurance costs, gas and oil fees, while also adding back two social workers, and two special education teachers.

“Some of these restorations may make sense on an individual basis, but within the context of the entire budget I am not supporting most of them,” Superintendent Joshua Starr said. “But, it is the board’s budget and they will do what they see fit.”

Starr stated that the only budget reductions he endorsed were preschool positions, adult education funding, a part-time General Electric supervisor position and the establishment of two reserve teacher positions.

“I believe that some of the Board of Education requests, if implemented, will require us to make additional cuts to instructional staff, which is needed to continue our efforts to upgrade curriculum and increase student performance,” Starr said.

Three teacher reserve positions and one preschool position were ultimately decided upon, although the preschool position is contingent on negotiations with .

The supervisor position for the grant is required by GE, although the position cannot technically be funded by the grant as that money has to be dedicated to teaching and instructional purposes. "You can’t use those funds for anything that doesn’t support students and learning,” Deputy Superintendent Winifred Hamilton said.

Removing the part-time position would save the district $64,000 and meetings are being scheduled to discuss with GE. “If they want us to have the position it should be part of the grant,” board member Jackie Heftman said. “I just think it’s troubling to see that in a $10 million grant. We’re talking nickels and dimes here.”

Additional cuts were drawn by not filling a social studies teacher vacancy at and a central office administration vacancy, saving the district $64,000 and $24,000, respectively. A secretary position at $50,000 was on the chopping block, but ultimately was not cut.

“I’m not willing to tell someone at the end of May that they no longer have a job. This should have been decided in February,” Heftman said.

“Thank you to all the staff and everyone for an unbelievable job. You provided us with great information," board vice president Jerry Pia said regarding what appeared to be — for now — closure of the 2011-2012 SPS budget. "This is our budget that we will live with and we will provide an excellent education for our kids."

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