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Bethlehem keeps modified sports

The Bethlehem Board of Education has voted to keep modified and freshmen level sports in the district in its final reduction session, but eliminated paying for the ice, greens and lane fees for its hockey, golfing and bowling teams.

During its Wednesday, March 25, meeting residents listened to the board make its finalized tentative budget reductions, although the board did not formally adopt a 2009-2010 school budget.

The district had reservations about a tier two proposal in its three-tiered plan to eliminate modified and freshmen level sports after receiving substantial criticism from the community. The board moved the reductions to the tier three level, thereby keeping the programs intact.

No tier three cuts, which included many staff and faculty cuts, were adopted by the board as a part of these weekly reduction sessions.

Resident Joan Smith said the board did the right thing by keeping modified and freshmen sports.

We'd like to thank the board for moving the modified cut to tier three, said Smith, after two middle school students handed in a petition with 500 signatures to keep modified.

Bethlehem is facing a $2.2 million cut in state aid and had to try to close the budget gap on an almost $90 million budget by reducing expenditures and increasing revenues.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano said many decisions facing the school are riding on the passage of a state budget that would restore some school funding.

"It all matters if the legislature can pass the budget They're doing their thing, and we just have to be patient," he said of the state budget passing by Wednesday, April 1.

Tebbano said he received a letter from the governor's office stating that once the budget passes, money will be flowing to area school districts.

To make the budget's passage even more pressing, Tebbano said, the promised federal stimulus money can not come to Bethlehem until New York has passed its own budget.

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