BETHLEHEM: Budget group sees priorities

Hiring two new full-time administrators, three new custodians, and expanding the high-school alternative education program are all part of the initiatives the Bethlehem school district handed to the citizens budget committee for its review.

The 40-member committee, consisting of taxpayers, parents, teachers, school administrators and community leaders, met Tuesday, Jan. 27, and began to work its way through each proposal and pages of updated budget information in order to understand the school budget before a plan is presented to voters.

We want our work with you to be totally transparent, said Superintendent Les Loomis, who provided the committee with baseline projections for the district's 2007-2008 budget. Among the list of priority items to be added to the existing budget were the addition of three middle school teachers, a payroll clerk, a technology specialist and new custodians, along with restoring funding for ice hockey, cheerleading, gymnastics and field trips.

Leadership changes at the high school and adding an alternative education program were also among the proposals.

The estimated cost of all these moves totals more than $520,000.

Three new teachers at the middle school would address the increasing enrollment and allow the school to complete four full teams of teachers at each grade level.

"The high school has grown from 1,100 students to 1,750 students, and the middle school has grown from 800 students to 1,300 students," said Loomis.

Other proposed changes include converting four part-time dean positions at the high school to two full-time grade level leaders, and converting three part-time house leaders at the middle school to two full-time leaders.

"We have a lot of new programs and intervention services," said Jody Monroe, middle school principal. "Two additional full-time people over part-time people, I think, would be a huge advantage."

Committee member Laura Bierman asked what benefit her son or daughter might receive from these new administrative positions.

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