Public weighs in on budget

Resident Tim Burke commended the board on a job well done with the current year's budget.

"I thought last year was a really good first step," said Burke, but he said that state aid and the cutting of positions had a lot to do with the budget staying at a reasonable rate. "We have a problem where we're going to run out of people to cut."

Resident Bridget Brown said she does not want to see the social worker position at the Altamont Elementary School cut.

"That social worker position is just instrumental in our elementary school," said Brown, who thanked the board for keeping the position available in the current budget.

Brown said a social worker is "vitally important" for the growth and well-being of students.

In light of recent local and nationwide school violence, Brown said social workers could be a proactive and preventative force.

"That presence of a social worker," said Brown, "can be a partner in possibly alleviating that tragedy."

One resident said she was concerned with department cuts. Beth Miller said the music department, which currently has a record number of students participating, plays an important role in student life and deserves adequate funding.

"Your ongoing support will ensure enough instruments are available for all interested students," said Miller.

While some residents pleaded against the removal of positions and programs, Terri Standish-Kuon, advocated for the addition of an elementary-level foreign language program. According to Standish-Kuon, the price to add early-level foreign instruction would be $70 per each student, what she called a modest price to give students a head start on learning a new language. Currently, according to Standish-Kuon, the only foreign language instruction available exists in the form of a $60, six-week after-school program.

Three of the speakers, Karen LaFreniere, Burke and Standish-Kuon, supported an increased school day at the elementary level. Burke also said he was in favor of increased student supervision between classes, stricter enforcement of strong language, and the development of a dress code.

"Most of the things we can do to help our kids are not expensive," said Burke, "they're just action."

Nearly all of the speakers thanked the school board for making themselves available to public early on in the budget-development process. Csaposs said he would like to see even more opportunities for input.

"I appreciate what you're doing in October, but I think you need more input in the fall," he said, likening the session to an extended public hearing. "The bottom line is we have an half-an-hour on one evening.""

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