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Author Topic: LT - School to Cut $2.7 Million  (Read 887 times)
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GDouglas
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« on: December 09, 2010, 08:37:45 PM »

From the Londonderry Times www.NutPub.net

School to Cut $2.7 Million
Chris Caesar
Londonderry Times
12/9/2010

Department heads and administrators alike met with the school board and budget committee twice last week to go over superintendent Nate Greenberg's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.

The budget, with over $2.7 million in savings over the current year, saw a shrinking of staff and program offerings, both due to the economic downtown and to a downward trend in enrollment, Greenberg said.

A federal jobs grant of eight to 10 full-time jobs also contributed to the savings.

Board members expressed appreciation at the streamlined budget, but were concerned that cuts could devalue the school's competitive edge in the long run.

"You don't think by losing (this staff) we'll be losing quality in service?" vice chair John Robinson asked almost immediately following Greenberg's presentation.

"Considering the economic climate, we had a choice between maintaining small class sizes, or make them larger significantly (with additional teacher aides)," he said. "We preferred to maintain the small class sizes, retain some of those instructional assistant hours.

"Is it going to be more difficult? The answer to that is: yes, if we didn't have the economic situation we are in now, I probably wouldn't be bringing this to you," Greenberg said. "I am confident, though, that they can fulfill their responsibilities (with these cuts)."

District administrators and school principals also presented their individual budgets to the board, facing largely straightforward questions from the elected officials.

Library, Media and Technology Director Susan Ballard told the board her department would not be replacing any equipment within her operating budget, aside from items that have "failed or are likely to fail" this year.

Ballard emphasized the importance of teaching children a modern, media-savvy curriculum that included critical thinking about what they see on the web, as well as providing them with an informational literacy and competency when conducting their own research.

"Times are tough, money is limited, expectations by communities and decision-makers to do more with less have never been so intense," she said. "But, the stakes have never been higher."

"How do we feel we stack up with other schools (in terms of technology)?" member John Laferriere asked.

"We have some neighboring communities who have recently built new facilities and outfitted them very generously - all classrooms might have a Smart Board or data projector technology, for example," she said.

"And while that might seem like nirvana, I think we have demonstrated through our use of action research that...it's better to ensure the technology is in the hands of a teacher who is highly motivated and has received the appropriate training," she said.

Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent told the board his school would be holding off on its scheduled textbook updates until the next fiscal year.

Parent also defended the school's vocational program, which he said provided a number of students - including those otherwise at-risk - with professional opportunities.

"These are students that need hands-on learning, they congregate to these types of centers and programs because they want to get out and explore areas of interest that aren't the traditional model school," he said.

"Oftentimes, these are kids that have a very good idea of what they want to do at age 16, 17," he added." They see a great path to be able to pursue."

Readers can view the district's proposed budget at the Londonderry District's website at http://londonderry.org.
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Glenn Douglas
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