LITTLE FALLS -- About 19.3 full-time equivalent teachers in the Little Falls School District may lose their jobs next school year and students may not be able to use the school libraries because they are proposed to be closed.
Little Falls Superintendent Sharon Thomas discussed $1.45 million in 2004-05 proposed budget cuts Monday before the Little Falls School Board and an audience of 80 people.
"These reductions are not pretty and not kind," she said. "You will hate them as I do. There are no winners here."
The school board has made more than $6 million in cuts since 2000.
The school board did not take any action Monday on the proposed cuts.
"I hate this," said board member Susan Prosapio. "I hate the fact we have to consider the options you (Thomas) presented here tonight. Not everyone is going to like all of the recommendations, in fact, they may not like any of them."
Prosapio asked how the district can close the libraries when one of the school's goals involves reading achievement.
The Little Falls School District's proposed major cuts include: * $347,000 to close all libraries and media centers. * $296,600 to cut 7.3 full-time equivalent teachers in the high school. * $256,600 to cut seven elementary teachers. * $183,400 to eliminate four custodians. * $126,200 to cut five teachers in the middle school. * $33,500 to reduce the human resource position to a part-time position. * $28,000 to eliminate five high school activities, including boys' tennis and boys' and girls' Nordic skiing and golf.
Longtime board member Betty Pasela said, "I don't agree with any of these recommendations you have, but I don't know what else to do. If this is it we are hurting our children. The only way to improve life and to get children out of poverty is to give them a good education and this is not going to help.
"This is a sad day in Little Falls."
Board member Clarence Dobmeier said he is angry and disappointed at the community for losing sight of education. He said the parameters the board gave Thomas were unfortunate and next to impossible and he was sorry Thomas had to come up with this type of proposal.
This year may not be the last of the cuts. Thomas said if the school district does not pass a referendum, the district will be looking at cutting another $1 million in the 2005-06 school year and another $1.2 million in the 2006-07 school year.
The school board authorized Thomas to proceed with a referendum election May 25. No amount has yet been determined, but Thomas said the district has received permission from the state to hold a referendum this spring, since the district is in statutory operating debt.
The school district has had four unsuccessful operating levy referenda in the past four years.
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