This year the School Committee has already voted to cut $265,675 from the FY ‘07 budget. Reductions include areas like summer help, supplies and materials, athletic budget, secretarial hours, custodial support and personnel, and more restrictive hiring in some areas to replace teachers who are retiring at the middle and high school levels.
However, the School Committee stopped there. After much deliberation, the vote was to pass an unbalanced budget to Mayor John Moak. If this budget becomes balanced via the Mayor and City Council, it will include the following cuts totaling $328,388:
Library Assistants at the Brown and Kelley Schools.
Elimination of one Instructional Assistant in the high school learning lab - the position is designed to assist 30-50 students in the program especially those who are struggling.
Elimination of one high school teaching staff.
Elimination of one art teacher at the Nock Middle School which will reduce the number of times that students in grades 5 - 8 have art to one time per week.
Reduction by 90% of one foreign language teacher at the middle school which would reduce foreign language instruction for 5th and 6th graders by 33%, limit the student choice of three foreign languages to grades 7 & 8, and restrict 5th and 6th graders to choose Spanish as the only available language. Sections of foreign language would likely increase to 26 or more students, as well.
Eliminate four electives at the high school, which reduces the availability of elective offerings and limits the options for students while increasing the class size of some electives.
An elimination of two elementary school teachers at the Bresnahan School, one from 1st grade, and one from 2nd grade, was taken off of cut consideration on May 1, 2006 when it was announced, during the Working Meeting of the School Committee, that enrollment would be increasing in these grades at the Bresnahan by 11 students over FY ‘06 figures.
And that does not include any children that move into the large Bresnahan neighborhood between now and when school begins in September. Four Bresnahan parents were also on hand at the Budget Hearing, that preceded the Working Meeting to speak against these cuts, as well. And they were the only four parents to speak at the hearing.
While these positions will be preserved out of necessity, it means that Superintendent Mary Murray, along with the Administrative Council of the school district, will have to find an additional $82,000 in cuts in place of these two teaching positions, and present those to the School Committee, likely at our Business Meeting, on May 15, 2006.
Cuts on top of cuts . . . consider foreign language. A student who took Spanish as a 2nd grader last year, did not have it this year as a 3rd grader. The student will now have to wait until grade 5 to take Spanish again, and at best, with the current proposed program cuts, have it 33% less than a 5th grader taking Spanish, right now.
Or consider a fourth grade student who wishes to learn German or French. They now will have to wait until the 7th grade to get started . . . cuts on top of cuts . . .
Vice Chairman, Newburyport School Committee