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Author Topic: LT - School Board Balks at Proposed Cuts, OKs Budget  (Read 1008 times)
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« on: December 30, 2010, 10:16:49 PM »

From the Londonderry Times

School Board Balks at Proposed Cuts, OKs Budget
Chris Caesar
Londonderry Times

The school board's consideration of cutting even further into its proposed budget this year was something of a non-starter, with the deepest of the exploratory cuts - $400,000 - forcing Superintendent Nate Greenberg to cut class 1 teams at Londonderry High School to balance the books.

 "I have eliminated teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels; I've eliminated assistant positions which have also impacted the classrooms, staff development and training money, and a custodial position" Greenberg told the board last week.

"(Co-curriculars were) the last place I had not touched, and, in looking at it, I came to the conclusion that, before I went to another teacher or instructional program, I'd have to look at the co-curricular programs."

The reductions would also have ended programs for class L teams at Londonderry Middle School, after school music programs and freshman sports teams. Indeed, the explored cuts would not even come close to the additional $900,000 in reductions necessary to keep the tax rate level from last year, a rise in costs for which the school blamed about $1.8 million in cuts from state aid for local districts.

So, while residents will see about $2.7 million in cuts in the district budget, their tax rates will likely increase by about 27 cents per thousand, chairman Ron Campo said.

"These are not the first set of reductions we've made - we're just running out of places to make reductions without removing programs," Greenberg said.  "We tried to put forward an honest budget, one recognizing these are difficult economic one sense, pruning the tree, and allowing it to grow back when revenues return, and not put us in a position where we're killing the tree and making it impossible to go back to additional services.

"We have not come late to the dance," he added. "Over the (past) four or five years, we've been reducing staff, reduced clerical time across the district - including the district office," he said, referring to changes as student enrollment drops in the district. "It's not like, whoops, this is something new. We've been doing (these cuts) incrementally."

The board did decide, however, to approve about $200,000 in cuts, thanks in large part to a decision by the teachers' union to forgo a pay raise in the next fiscal year  -  offering savings of about $120,000.

Greenberg also proposed cutting two clerical positions in the district office to round the number to $200,000.

Without the pay cut, he said, he would have been forced to cut more deeply into the school's staffing levels, including another elementary school teacher, a librarian and more clerical assistance in the district office.

"For all of you to volunteer to go without a pay my opinion, is just fabulous, and we appreciate's more than $120,000 to me, it's your attitude that we appreciate," school board member Steve Young said, noting he had seen many staff members in attendance for the late night meetings, without receiving overtime pay for the effort.

The school board endorsed the "tier 1" -  or $200,000 - cuts in a unanimous vote at the end of the meeting, bringing this year's budget process - at least at the school board level - to a close.

Now, residents may participate in budget hearings at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13.

Whether a pending lawsuit challenging the district's voter-approved quorum of 500 residents will have an effect on this year's budget remains to be seen, though a hearing for the case is scheduled for Jan. 4.

Glenn Douglas
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