According to by the Three Village school administration, the decision to cut additional teachers, administrators, and other staff members has paved the way for a number of major programs to be retained.
Of more than $1.9 million in reductions made from , at least $1,281,000 is coming through the elimination of several teaching positions as well as three elementary school assistant principals. Including more than 85 positions already eliminated via previous budget cuts, the new adopted budget would bring the total number of full-time equivalent staff reductions to 109.
"These are very difficult decisions. You never really want to make these kinds of cuts," interim superintendent Neil Lederer said. "It does not benefit our children, but hopefully the reductions we’ve made to this point for the most part will maintain our programs."
The board adopted a budget of $176,701,579 to put up for a re-vote on June 19.
The administration's original recommendations called for the elimination of two elementary assistant principal positions, but board president John Diviney moved to up that number to three.
"I do think it is something we should do. I think we have to get used to this with this tax cut environment," he said. His suggestion was met with applause from a crowd of about 200.
Trustees Jonathan Kornreich and Susanne Mendelson voiced their support for Diviney's suggestion. However, Mendelson noted, "It isn’t an exciting time to be applauding for reduction in our administrative staff. They do in fact affect the running and the efficiency of our district."
Lederer said the district would likely assign one assistant elementary school principal to Arrowhead Elementary, which has the highest population of special needs students, while the other four elementary schools would share two assistant principals.
With that additional amount to work with, the school board then began the process of adding items back into the budget.
The full junior high school athletic program was one of them. The administration originally recommended a modified athletic program that would have saved $102,000. It would have called for teams at both schools to share the same schedule by registering only one team per sport with Section XI. The plan, according to Lederer, would have saved the district money in coaching positions, league fees, officials' fees, and transportation.
"I know that all my colleagues on the board feel the same way I do," Kornreich said of the junior high athletics reductions. "We would like to see those parts of the program restored."
While the was also on the initial list of eliminations, trustee Irene Gische recommended that be restored, too – a move that was met with another round of applause.
While the administration initially recommended $100,000 in cuts to K through 12 extracurricular activities, the school board was able to lower that amount to $43,000.
"It brings back things for the kids and that’s what we’re all about," trustee Dr. Jeff Kerman said.
Other cuts included in the revised budget:
- The elimination of one dean at the secondary level;
- The partial elimination of a social worker position;
- Reducing elementary health education for a savings of $140,000;
- Reducing summer work for guidance counselors for a savings of $75,000;
- Reducing funding for the theater arts program by $84,000;
- Increasing elementary class sizes nominally, saving $140,000;
- Making $100,000 worth of non-staff reductions in technology and special education funding.
Following the meeting, some in the crowd expressed a sense of cautious relief.
"I'm very thankful that full-day kindergarten is restored. However, I think the elementary assistant principal losses are going to be felt throughout the community," said Claudine Pepe, a parent in the district. "People don't realize the level of service they provide."
Britt Halvorsen, who along with another parent created petitions that garnered more than 800 signatures in support of saving the junior high school athletics program, said she was satisfied that the program would be preserved as is. "I'm happier with [the budget], but I definitely think there still could be cuts in the administration," she said.
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