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School cuts 'premature'

Committee objects to proposed $1.1M cut

April 13, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Instead of meeting the town manager's request to slice $1.1 million from its $24.15 million budget, the School Committee argued Tuesday it needs to make its case when the Town Council actually votes on the town's whole budget soon.

"These cuts are the same things that created an underperforming school system," argued member Scott Lazo. He noted most of Southbridge's town services "are not under watch," but the schools are.

"This is the injury that's being repaired, and we can't stop midstream," Lazo said. "… We could go back to underperforming very quickly" without money to meet the district's needs.

Specifically, Superintendent Dale Hanley laid out the potential of using what's left of its stimulus money ($575,597), savings on oil and transportation, and various cuts to meet the $1.1 million target. Among the proposed cuts are the newly rebudgeted but not yet hired ESL Director ($70,000), $20,000 from library books, $50,000 from professional development, $73,000 by eliminating a 1 percent pay hike, delaying curriculum revision one year ($150,000) or axing a gifted and talented teacher at West Street School ($45,000).

To committee members, however, making such cuts now is "premature" without knowing what the council actually defines the budget to be. Regarding the latter itself, Chairman John Jovan said he'd rather keep that teacher than continue the resource officer, adding the committee has been "conservative" with funding requests in recent years.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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