Jay eyes $661,000 in education cuts

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Among cuts in Jay School Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2007-2008 are:

• $154,421, move fourth-graders to the middle school.

• $97,978, eliminate one of two bus runs.

• $91,760, eliminate adult education.

• $266,731, at the high school, eliminate one special education, one automotive technology, one business and one consumer and family science teacher, one learning center education technician, a library assistant, and a half-time guidance counselor.

• $86,497, eliminate one elementary and one middle school teaching position.

• $66,933, combine systemwide Internet technology director with curriculum director position.

• eliminating food service director position and align the operation.

• pay the three-day-a-week speech therapist with federal local entitlement funds.

• restructure the central office with less hours during the summer and vacations.

Jay eyes $661,000 in education cuts

JAY – The School Department administration’s proposal for 2007-08 carries $661,000 in cuts that would eliminate positions, restructure some departments, eliminate adult education, create a single bus run and move fourth-graders to the middle school.

Superintendent Robert Wall unveiled the proposed budget Tuesday in a School Committee budget workshop. If approved, residents are looking at a $9.8 million budget for the next school year, down from this year’s $10.46.

School Committee Vice Chairwoman Mary Redmond-Luce said Wednesday that she was discouraged at how little reduction in administration costs she saw in the initial proposal and addressed that with Wall.

“I think I felt from all the administrators and especially Bob (Wall), that they were not thrilled with this proposal,” she said. “The cuts were too drastic but they were trying to do what the school committee had asked.”

“I’m appalled. I don’t think it’s good for the kids,” said resident Rosie Richmond, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. She said she understands that cuts need to be made but they shouldn’t impact children to this degree.

Last year, the School Committee directed Wall and administrators to bring in a budget that was $600,000 to $800,000 less than the existing budget to get Jay closer to meeting the state’s essential programs and services model.

Since 2006, the school system has been reducing its overrun of the ESP model from $2.2 million in 2005-06 to $1.7 million in 2006-07. If the proposed budget is approved, it would take the overrun down to 10 percent or less, Wall said.

Even with $600,000 in cuts, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 in Jay would only see a reduction of less than $50 in their tax bill, Wall said.

Now, with Gov. John Baldacci’s proposal to consolidate school administrative districts into 26 regions governed by a superintendent and regional school board, concerns are being raised on the impact of cuts the committee requested, Redmond-Luce said.

If the School Committee decided to cut a position in the past and it didn’t work, it could go back and fix it, but under the governor’s proposal, local control wouldn’t be there, she said.

Jay would be in a region that stretches from Livermore and Eustis to Weld and New Sharon under Baldacci’s plan.

Before any decisions are made on budget cuts, Redmond-Luce said the School Committee has asked Wall and building administrators “to review the possible reductions to highlight the cuts they could live with that would not negatively impact the quality of education of our children.”

A meeting between the school panel and administrators is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at the middle school library. A full presentation on the budget to the school and town budget committees will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the middle school cafeteria.

Administrators are looking at increasing services of substance abuse counselor at the high school, which would cost $46,060.

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