Springfield School Board cuts budget by $1MBy Kevin O’Connor
Staff Writer | January 22,2014SPRINGFIELD — This town’s School Board voted reluctantly Tuesday to cut nearly two dozen teachers and support staffers next academic year to slice almost $1 million from tax bills.
“These obviously aren’t cuts we or you want, but we also respect the fact this is a unique situation,” Superintendent Zachary McLaughlin told the board.
By slicing $960,376 from the 1,450-student, 359-employee school system, which covers pre-school to grade 12, the coming budget will rise less than $10,000 from the current year’s $28 million — but still require a tax increase of 6.2 cents because of changing variables in a complex state formula.
Last week a crowd of 50 residents ranging from students to staffers to senior citizens voiced opposition to the plan for nearly two hours, with many focusing on the potential loss of Russian language study.
In response, school leaders said they empathized with such comments but also had a responsibility to increasingly burdened taxpayers.
“We’re not excited about it — this is going to have an impact and put more strain on existing staff,” McLaughlin said. “But this is the best we can do with what we’ve been given.”
Under the plan:
The grade K-2 Elm Hill primary school faces about $200,000 in cuts, including two classroom teachers, two paraeducators and a mental health clinician.
The grade 3-5 Union Street elementary school will face some $150,000 in cuts, including four paraeducators and a mental health clinician.
The grade 6-8 Riverside Middle School faces nearly $250,000 in cuts, including one world language teacher, half-time teachers for language arts, math, science and social studies, and one half-time and two full-time paraeducators.
And the grade 9-12 Springfield High School faces $270,000 in cuts, including one social studies teacher, half-time teachers for English, math and Russian, one instructional assistant and the elimination of the Precision Valley alternative education program for students in danger of dropping out.
One board member spoke in favor of reinstating the half-time high school Russian teacher. But in the end, the board approved the superintendent’s plan, which, depending on individual decisions about retirement or relocation, could impact up to 23 staffers.
Springfield residents will vote on the proposed budget on the March town meeting ballot.
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