NW school budget calls

CHESTERTOWN - The North Warren Central School Board of Education recently finalized their 2009-2010 budget in accordance with their controversial reorganizational plan which includes eliminating the position of Elementary Principal and three teaching positions.

The 2009-2010 budget of $12,488,408 represents a .77 percent increase in spending over the current year, and an increase in total tax levy of 1.13 percent.

The public vote on the budget is set for noon to 8 p.m. May 19 in the school atrium.

Abolishing the Elementary Principal post has sparked controversy this year. The position has been held for six years by Susan Bulmer, who has been praised for her performance by both parents and teachers. Bulmer's responsibilities will be redistributed among other administrators.

Also eliminated in the cost-saving downsizing will be one of two business teacher positions. Losing her job will be the business teacher with the least tenure, Mary Hilliard, who has taught in North Warren for four years.

Also to be eliminated is one of five reading teaching posts. Losing her position will be Nicole Rushlow, who is in her third year of teaching at North Warren. Special Education Teacher Gail Lagas, who is retiring, will not be replaced.

School Superintendent Joe Murphy has said the school board and administration made the downsizing decisions based on sinking enrollment. The number of students enrolled in North Warren Central has declined from about 670 in 1995 to about 600 this year, school records indicate.

Elimination of the positions saves about $275,000 in pay and benefits, according to school Business Manager MaryLou Carstensen. The three positions will be axed as of June 30.

The school reorganization includes grouping teachers into four teams of primary grades, level three through five, middle school grades, and high school level. Regardless of several class consolidations, Murphy said, classes will be ranging from 12 to 20 pupils, with an average size of about 17 - a small size when compared to other school systems across the state.

Two Board of Education seats are open, and incumbents Bruce Robbins and Bruce Hiller, both of Chestertown, will be on the ballot for additional terms.

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