LIVERMORE FALLS – School directors will continue their review of the 2010-2011 budget Tuesday, after hearing this week from a seventh-grader concerned about staffing cuts and elimination of the middle school athletic teams.
“I believe our teachers at (Livermore Falls Middle School) want us to succeed,” student Elizabeth Chretien told the Regional School Unit 36 board this week. “They want us to reach our goals, and if we so choose, go to college. I believe that these cuts in our education are not the right choice,” she said. “I believe that every teacher gets up in the morning and comes to school because they love their students, their jobs; it’s what makes them teachers, to do their best to give the best education to students.”
Directors went through the proposed $9 million budget line by line Tuesday night. It is $422,980 less than this year and calls for eliminating some teachers, secretaries, administrators and other staff, as well as middle school athletic teams and a high school plumbing program. It was standing room only in the Livermore Elementary School cafeteria.
After board Chairman Ashley O’Brien invited public comment, Chretien addressed the board, saying she believes that if students do not have sports there will be more kids on the streets. They already lack music and foreign language programs, she added. Chretien said she also believes that every student can succeed in Maine.
“I believe every teacher in our school believes in us and encourages us to do our best that we can be but we need your help,” Chretien said.
Mercedes Bell and Kayla Ward, both students at Livermore Falls High School, also spoke on concerns about cuts. The high school needs a guidance secretary, Bell said. That secretary position and one at the middle school are proposed to be cut.
The guidance secretary always helps students get what they need for college and other tasks they need to do, and she also assists Guidance Director Sue Spalding, Bell said.
A lot of teachers have multiple classes at the high school and some classes would be lost if cuts are made, Ward said.
Town officials from Livermore and Livermore Falls encouraged directors to lower the budget for next year and beyond. Declining revenue and a shift in valuation is putting more pressure on taxpayers, they said.
After public comment, directors did a line-by-line review of the budget, with Denise Rodzen of Livermore Falls looking for ways to stave off proposed reductions. One thing is in the district’s favor are health insurance costs that are $115,000 less than what was budgeted.
The board will continue its budget review at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, and Thursday, March 25, at the elementary school.