BC continues to find cuts

Next workshop to feature instruction, athletics

The Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education continued paring down the 2010-11 school budget Wednesday, March 10, tentatively approving approximately $364,000 in cuts to the special education and technology portions of the budget.

The board will review the reductions again before formally adopting a budget later in March.

Last year, the technology portion of the budget was spared from cuts, and there was some discussion as to whether this was one area of the budget too important to cut.

It would be a huge setback with where we want to go, said Assistant Superintendent Jody Monroe.

A $125,000 cut to the technology replacement fund would likely mean neither the middle or high schools would see wireless Internet next year and, if the cut is maintained longer, the 6-year replacement schedule for computers could be pushed back. Board Vice President Lisa Allendorph dissented in the tentative vote.

Allendorph and Board Member Charmaine Wijeyesinghe dissented on a tentative vote to cut two technology aides (of five), which would substantially increase repair service times for computers and other equipment district wide.

In the area of special education, the board tentatively approved $236,000 in cuts, which Pupil Personnel Services Director Rita Levay said are least harmful to the program.

"We have spent a lot of time looking at every student that we serve," she said. "It has been challenging, but I believe we can do that."

The cuts include a teacher (of 49, to be removed by attrition), two certified occupational therapist assistants and a staff aide.

In addition to the personnel reductions, the special education program would stop providing speech and motor improvement for students not falling under state mandate.

There was some discussion as to whether cutting the COTAs was a wise decision, as there are only six occupational therapists and assistants in the department. These workers generally help struggling students one-on-one in the classroom and are viewed as a way to keep kids from having to formally enter a special education program.

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