School budget cuts debated as decision nears

WARRENSBURG - As the local school board members debated proposed budget cuts Monday - including eliminating summer school, drivers' education and two teaching positions - local residents expressed a range of viewpoints - including support for existing school programs, praise for the teachers, as well as pleas for spending reductions.

After three hours of debate, the budget committee deferred making a decision until their April 20 meeting, to select one of three budget options they have drafted.

Budget option A, which would decrease the existing $19.48 million annual budget by 1.2 percent and cut the tax levy by 2.2 percent, calls for eliminating Drivers Education, cutting one high school English teaching position, eliminate summer school and cut one third-grade teaching post.

Option B would retain the third grade teacher but eliminate the English post, switch the Drivers' Ed program to a smaller summer offering, keep summer school but cut two of the program's teachers. It would cut the budget by 0.53 percent, an estimated 0.44 percent reduction in the tax levy.

Option C, which would keep all the above posts and programs at status quo, would increase the budget by 0.26 percent, or a 1.5 percent increase in the tax levy.

All three budget plans reflect a give-back by administrators of their contractual raises, the elimination of a special education teaching position, various cuts to equipment, fuel oil, electricity, support staff and co-curricular salaries, removal of cable television in an employee break room and cuts to postage and mailing.

Another possible cut under consideration, in addition to those above, calls for making the now-vacant full-time administrative position of Director of Pupil-Personnel Services part-time, saving taxpayers half of the annual salary and benefit costs of $100,000.

Board members Laura Danna, Dean Moore and Melissa Thomas said they favored the C Option. Budget committee chair Linda Marcella said she and Board President Thomas Yarmowich leaned toward option A with keeping the third grade teaching post.

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