LITTLE FALLS -- About 200 people filled the performing arts center at Lindbergh Elementary Monday to hear what programs and teachers would be cut from the Little Falls School District 2000-01 budget.
George Mauer, superintendent, said the administrators need to cut $1.5 million to balance the budget for next school year. School board members plan to vote on the proposed reductions at a 7 p.m. meeting today.
Mauer thanked those who helped in cutting the budget and said nobody likes to be in this kind of situation.
"These are financial problems, not educational ones," he said. "I've been in several districts and this budget meets the needs of the children. I always place children first. There may be a few angry people, but we are left with very few options."
In brief, the proposed cuts are:
-- $750,000 would be reduced from the district administrative budget.
-- $310,000 from the high school.
-- $190,000 from the middle school.
-- $260,000 from the elementary school.
Mauer hopes these cuts will create a positive, stable financial environment for the next five years.
The officials proposing the budget cuts honored all employee contracts at a cost of $1.2 million. Mauer said he wanted to keep as many teachers as possible, noting that some teachers may be reassigned to other positions to help save money.
The cuts also made sure all grade levels fell within the class size policy and prioritized positions as they relate to children directly. The school's long term goal is to maintain 5 to 7 percent of the district unreserved fund in the general fund.
The proposed cuts also assume student enrollment will be constant and will not decrease. Mauer projects almost 190 kindergartners for this fall.
School board member Herman Pietrowski said the superintendent and the staff spent months on the budget reductions and said 24 hours will not change anything and wanted to vote on it.
Dave Hietala, board member, agreed.
"We asked the superintendent, principals and staff a couple months ago to cut the budget with the least amount of pain as possible," he said. "I don't think we should second guess them."
Susan Prosapio, another school board member, wanted to wait and look over the reductions.
"I'm not cherry-picking," she said. "I want to know what these things have an impact on. I need time."
The crowd of residents agreed and clapped to show her their support. Dick Johnson, a retired teacher, stopped the board from voting Monday and said the meeting was supposed to be informational and the time was given for them to review the cuts and then vote on it Tuesday.
School board members will also vote Tuesday on a proposal to keep the all-day, every-day kindergarten program. Betty Pasela, school board member, was concerned about the financial responsibility, but is comfortable with the program. She received several telephone calls from parents and teachers, who support the program.
In the proposal, class sizes would stay with 24 students with eight sections available at a cost of $70,000. The estimated cost of the program this school year is $600,000 and the district would save about $185,000 this coming year with the projected revenues.
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