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School budget cuts debated as decision nears

Board Member Richlene Morey said she believed in cutting beyond option A because the future didn't look financially bright and gradual annual cuts were necessary to avoid future tax shock. Board member John MicGlire suggested paring down the Pupil Personnel Services post in combination with Option B.

"It's awkward making a decision in the interests of the children's future while being fiscally responsible to taxpayers - with some facing such hardships," he said.

Most of the Citizens Budget Advisory Group members said they supported option C, except for two who said they preferred Plan B.

Warrensburg resident Tom Drane cited figures of spending per student in neighboring school districts that indicated Warrensburg was spending 1.6 times the sum that some other schools were spending per pupil, or $22,000 apiece for 867 students.

"I'm retired, on a pension, and my 401k has tanked," he said. "I dare say we can send our students to ACC or a private school cheaper than this."

Drane suggested instituting cost-sharing with neighboring schools in Bolton, Lake George, North Warren and Warrensburg to create magnet academies to boost academics while saving money.

Teachers Suzanne Glebus and Karen Van Dusen said they supported option C.

Van Dusen said she and others sympathized with the teacher who might be losing her job. She said that teachers and taxpayers were jointly facing challenges.

"We're not separate entities, we're in this together," she said.

Local taxpayer Michael Currie also said teachers and taxpayers should seek common ground and show they share each other's interests. But while praising the teachers' dedication and work, he said the local teachers, if they believe in education as a top priority rather than prioritizing their own income, should participate in the cuts in the face of the prevailing economic slump. The teachers should contribute a portion of their pay increases toward a $160,000 increase in their health care costs, he said.

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