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Bethlehem Central closes in on final budget plans

Proposed cuts include ending Chinese language program

— Recommendations were made to cut some staffing and phase out the Chinese language program at the final budget presentation for the Bethlehem Central School District.

Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs Jody Monroe said on Wednesday, April 2, the district could make do with some further staff reductions because of a decline in enrollment at the elementary levels. She also said it is becoming harder to find someone to teach the higher levels of the Chinese program, which is making it hard for students to obtain enough credits to graduate or take college level courses.

“At the elementary level, we are seeing a loss of about 75 students and looking at the numbers ... we would look to see a reduction of two teachers,” said Monroe.

The total proposed reductions include the loss of two elementary school teachers, with one coming from Eagle Elementary and the other coming from Glenmont. The middle school could also possibly see the loss of one full sixth-grade teacher. Smaller staffing reductions would come in the loss of what equates to partial full-time equivalent positions in art, music, physical education, foreign language, ELS and ELA. This would most like lead to a reduction is sections offered to students.

The staffing reduction would lead to a savings of $341,000.

“We make sure kids are getting what they need to the degree possible, but with the amount of reductions we’ve had already, I don’t want to sugarcoat anything to make it seem like class sizes won’t go up and these reductions will be easy to take,” Monroe told the Board of Education.

Since 2010, Bethlehem Central has faced the loss of 70.6 full-time equivalent positions. Monroe said this has led to larger class sizes, loss of electives and class sections, “less individualized instruction” and “increased stress on staff.” She also said programs can’t be added without something being taken away.

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