My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Proposed Amherst elementary school cuts run to $1.6 million

Hampshire Gazette
By NICK GRABBEStaff Writer
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AMHERST - Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez has proposed $1.6 million in cuts to the elementary school budget for next year.

The Amherst School Committee is scheduled to discuss the elementary budget at a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

About 40 percent of the cuts would come from the closing of Mark's Meadow School. The annual savings from the closing are estimated at $768,358, but $90,000 has been added to next year's budget for moving expenses.

A reduction of four elementary teachers would cause the average elementary class size to increase from 19 to 20. A reduction of the equivalent of 4.6 full-time intervention specialists would mean that "students will receive less frequent and intensive intervention support," according to Rodriguez's cut list.

Reductions of about a half a position in music, art and physical education would mean that the remaining staff members would work with more students. Reductions of a .9 psychologist position and one guidance position would result in an increase in case loads and a reduction in availability for consultation.

The cut of one position in instructional technology "will significantly reduce the amount of instruction in technology to students and will require an alteration of the model in this area," according to the cut list.

Special education would lose the equivalent of 13.2 positions, eight of them paraprofessionals, resulting in an increased case load. The English Language Learners program would lose two positions.

The building principals would not receive raises. Central office savings would come from utilities and transportation efficiencies ($62,000) and a cut of 1.6 positions.

Increases to the budget would be $90,000 for an additional pre-kindergarten classroom to "expand early learning opportunities for children in the community to reduce the achievement gap," and $28,000 for the elementary schools' share of a new curriculum director's salary.
These reductions assume no growth in state aid, no override of Proposition 2 ½, and no givebacks of raises by the teachers' union.

Last week, Rodriguez outlined $2.6 million in potential cuts to the regional school budget.

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