WCS budget trimmed, some jobs saved, protests continue

WARRENSBURG - As local high school students and their parents resumed pleas Monday to retain programs and positions at their school in the face of pending budget cuts, Warrensburg School District administrators announced ways they'd save a few faculty jobs while cutting expenses.

They'll be accomplishing the feat in the 2011-2012 school year by teaching more children on the WCS campus rather than sending them to a regional BOCES campus for instruction and services. Eliminating the contracted expense will more than cover the costs of additional local personnel by nearly $65,000, school officials told the public Monday at a budget workshop.

This change reduces a former projected tax rate increase for 2011-12 from 2.05 percent to 1.92 percent.

The increase is primarily due to a projected loss of about $1 million in state aid. Under the plan, overall spending in the district would be reduced by 3.44 percent to about $18.3 million.

The shift to teaching five more students with various specialized issues locally means the high school psychologist and two teaching assistants, plus one special education teacher, would all be retained.

The students would also have a more amenable school day due to reduced travel time, Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson said.

Still on the chopping block are the cheerleading program and all Junior Varsity sports, a hot-button issue that prompted dozens of students to attend the meeting, and a half-dozen of them to voice their opinions.

A half-dozen students testified on behalf of retaining Junior Varsity sports programs.

Seventh graders Kerri Fino and Amber Davis said the pending proposal to have Junior Varsity level players be reassigned to either modified or Varsity teams would force coaches to cut that many more students off team rosters.

Fino said she had just begun practice on a modified team with 24 girls, and the coach was planning to trim that number to 15 active players.

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