Possible cuts, pay freeze pitched

"We've had a dilemma in the past few months in looking at our educational program and what can we do to try and swallow the cuts we are talking about without devastating our programs, and that has been a significant challenge," said Spring. "We know that these are unprecedented reductions in state aid, and I know there hasn't been this significant of a reduction since 1990."

The preliminary report from the Mandate Relief Redesign Team was released on March 1, offering initial suggestions on how to reduce the tax burden locally, but Spring said nothing for "short-term significant mandate relief," and most options would be explored in the future. Also, she said, there is a perception in the community that the tax cap is in place for the current budget even though it won't be in effect if passed until the next budget.

Through informal discussions, the district has talked to unions, but Spring said she plans to formalize the discussion and will send a letter to all the unions and associations in the district. If all salaries were frozen in the district, there is a savings of $1.2 million, which would tighten the budget gap.

"I have formally written to each president of each association in our district asking them to consider a salary freeze for one year," said Spring.

In the budget cuts presented by Denise Swezey, assistant superintendent for business at the district, athletics wasn't immune to cuts totaling near $49,000. Also, co-circular activities saw cuts with the majority from supervision in the afterschool cafeteria and busing totaling $41,647, but band also saw $1,222 in proposed cuts.

Sports eliminations include strength and conditioning coaches and fall freshman cheerleading. Also, talks include eliminating assistant coaches in boys and girls soccer and basketball, baseball, softball and modified wrestling.

The board is hoping to have as little effect as possible on programs and after-school activities, such as sports, because the district wants to have well-rounded students, said Board of Education President Dominic Cafarelli.

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