School board approves trimmed budget, axes teaching positions

WARRENSBURG - In a controversial split decision, school board members voted to adopt a 2009-2010 budget that would cut personnel and administration posts while downsizing a few programs.

The $19.3 million spending plan would cut four teaching positions, axe an elementary Dean of Discipline post, downsize instruction in Summer School, eliminate Driver's Education as a school-year offering, but provide a .93 percent decrease in expenditures, and a 1.43 percent decrease in tax levy for property owners.

Citizens attending the meeting aired opposition to the board's decision.

"I'm very disappointed - I've attended a lot of school board meetings, and I've heard a lot of people speak out in favor of programs you've eliminated," Denise Foster said. "I'm feeling we've been disregarded - Now if we vote this budget down, you will make more cuts, so you've actually shut us up."

School Board members Dean Moore, John McGlire and Laura Danna voted against the budget, which will go up for a public vote May 19. Also expressing opposition - via a written statement - was board member Melissa Thomas, who was not present.

She and others also objected to a budget meeting that was held during Spring vacation with minimal public notice.

Danna said she opposed budget as finalized because it would diminish the school's core programs, which ran counter to the board's earlier agreement.

"These cuts are going way too deep, and will effect the community in the long run," she said. "Let's listen to the taxpayers who have stated their position - We have a responsibility to the children to help them become successful, productive members of our community."

Her comments, including mention of petitions presented to the board, were met with rousing applause from the large audience present at the meeting. District resident Paul Weick presented a petition, signed by 49 residents, requesting that no substantial personnel or program cuts be made.

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