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School Board Hears "Painful" List Of Proposed Budget Cuts (With Poll)

Music program, Project Oceanology, teachers and tutors cut to meet the bottom line.

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.

Samuel Kilpatrick February 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
The $6000.00 uniform allowance applies to the entire maintenance/custodial staff of about 30 men and women, not one individual. It was reported incorrectly.
Stephanie Calhoun February 03, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Project O costs $31,094 per year for the district. It not only benefits High School students but also provides an opportunity for all students from Ledyard to participate in Project O summer camps (at a cost to each family). Google Project O, very cool science opportunities for children!
Julian Lupienski February 05, 2012 at 11:52 PM
now let me get this striaght we are giving a choice of either cutting educational expenses or increase the mill rate, but we, taxpayers, are not giving a chance in ending a lawsuit, taxing slot machines, or folding after spending over 900k on legal fee,with no end in sight. the day paper, who has no dog in this fight, is encouraging our elected officials to continue. our elected officials, this includes the present and the two previous mayors the day, heartly, endorsed, appear to go along with this foolish spending. even if we win, it would take years to recoup money spent. who would benifit besides the town; others, who are standing by, watching us throw money away like we have a endless supply hoping we will win, they win. we have priorities and continue to chase slot machines tax should not be one of them. our elected officials, like problem gramblers think just one more time and our ship will come in. like kenny rodgers song know when to hold and know when to fold, it is time to fold. this town needs a change in management and it starts at the top .
Mike Cherry February 06, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Julian If the 320k square foot mall comes in on the MPTN reservation this lawsuit has greater significance. Plus doesn't principle have any weight these days? Or does he who has the gold make the rules?
Julian Lupienski February 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
mike no amount of principles will pay for schools or roads. these princilples you speak of seem to fall on deaf ears and closed pocketbooks of others who might benifit. this mall along with slot machines with added taxes and no assurance of winning will take decades to recoup. it is time to cut our loses and stop throwing good taxpayer dollars at attorneys. the town is a problem gambler and needs to go cold turkey

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