Ledyard Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Graner proposed what he described as "painful" and "horrendous" list of cuts to the 2012-13 school budget during a work session held by the Board of Education Wednesday night.
Graner said the cuts, which total $1,154,214, are necessary in order to deliver a zero-increase budget to the town, but it still leaves a $703,430 gap in the budget from a one-time federal grant that was used up this year. If taxpayers agree to bridge that gap, the tax rate will increase by approximately .75 mills, accoring to Paul Hopkins, the town's assessor.
Graner proposed the following cuts to next year's school budget:
Operations reductions totaled $243,444 and included reduced spending in textbooks, benefits, energy, and software.
The bus that brings three students to the Dual Language & Arts Magnet Middle School in Waterford will be eliminated and so was tuition to Project Oceanology, which affects approximately 55 high school students, Graner said.
Salary reductions totaled $248,975 because paraprofessionals, administrators, and staff agreed to a zero percent pay increase and people in other areas were laid off or agreed to reduce hours from full- to part-time.
Approximately 12 tutors assisting in first grade academy, third grade math and an early reading program will be laid off.
One 20-hour a week secretarial position was eliminated, which will likely reduce two full-time secretaries to part-time status. One custodian also agreed to move from full- to part-time and surrendered a $6,000 uniform allowance.
Teacher reductions totaled $424,750 and include a full or partial reduction in teaching positions, coaching and extracurricular stipends.
Two special education positions teachers and one health teacher will be laid off.
One instrumental music position will be eliminated. Graner said fifth- and sixth-grade musical instruction will be taught for two hours after school, which is a fraction of the full-day to half-day programs schools have going now.
And, Graner proposed reduced teaching positions in middle school social studies middle school math, middle school language arts, middle school science, high school world languages, high school science, high school family and consumer science and the agri-science summer teachers.
Graner said that next year's enrollment is expected to be lower and the reduction of teaching hours increases class size by one or two students.
Also, the yearbook advisor, assistant senior advisor, assistant band director, business club advisor, the supervisor of publications and a football assistant will be unfunded next year.
Some savings, which amount to approximately $237,045, were captured through scheduled retirements.
After a reading of the proposal, Graner described it as "extremely painful" and "a terrible list." He said the cuts were necessary in order to deliver a flat budget and maintain most of the quality programs the schools have in place.
"I can tell you there was due diligence in this work," said Sharon Hightower, the education board chairperson. "it was an attempt to do the least amount of harm to the students."
Hightower said the proposal was painful but it didn't have a big impact on the schools' core curriculum and programming.