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Jobs and sports programs may get 'squeezed'

WARRENSBURG - In an effort to keep school taxes from increasing, the Warrensburg Central School Board of Education is considering eliminating most all summer school programs, shutting down or consolidating several sports offerings, and cutting four teaching positions, school officials said Monday.

The proposed actions include terminating a promising new Social Studies teacher Crystal Grimaldi, and not filling three other posts now held by retiring teachers.

Grimaldi was praised Monday by sources at the school as an outstanding, inspiring teacher to ninth and 12th grade students.

Those teachers retiring are fifth grade teacher Jerry Howe, High School Remedial Math teacher Nancy Hill, and Remedial Math teacher Robert Brown.

Extracurricular activities would also be affected at Warrensburg Central, if proposals now under consideration were enacted.

The winter cheerleading program would be eliminated, and the school's boys soccer teams would be combined with Bolton Central's, or eliminated, if a consolidation concept doesn't pan out. Warrensburg Central's longstanding volleyball program, which has declined in recent years, would also face consolidation with Bolton or be axed.

"These are just proposals at this time," Superintendent Tim Lawson said Monday.

The proposals include shutting down Elementary Summer School and the high school summer programs, except for Driver's Education and extended school-year programs.

The proposed cuts are in the face of an anticipated shortfall of about $705,000 in state and federal aid, which would prompt a 14.7 increase in local property taxes if Gov. Paterson's state aid proposals are enacted unchanged and the local teachers' union continues to reject a board proposal to reopen a work contract and renegotiate scheduled wage increases.

For several years, the Warrensburg school budget squeeze has prompted controversy, with taxpayers upset about tax increases and many community members raising strong objections to cuts in staff and programs.

Over these years, the local teachers union, under instruction from their Albany bosses, has stood firm on scheduled wage increases and has declined to negotiate.

The next meeting of the Board of Education's budget committee is 6 p.m. March 15 in the high school library.

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