School Committee lists positions to be cut at budget hearing
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW Although nearly three dozen parents of students and town residents attended the School Committee's preliminary budget presentation last Wednesday evening, only a handful had questions or concerns about what was presented.
School Committee Chair Christine Swanson said those in attendance must have been "in shock."
The town of Longmeadow will be seeing nearly $370,000 less in state aid for fiscal year 2010 (FY10), and although the funds set aside for schools through Chapter 70 were not cut, they remain level with FY09 numbers -- which led to some serious cuts in the school department.
The School Committee noted a loss of school revenue through lessened special education funding and fewer grants.
"The budget sadly includes the reduction of 10.65 staff members," Superintendent E. Jahn Hart stated. "The decision to eliminate staff positions is not an easy one. These are not just 'jobs' -- they are people: our colleagues and team members. They are respected educators who chose to work in the Longmeadow schools."
The cuts include the elimination of the fourth grade instrumental music program in Blueberry Hill, Center and Wolf Swamp schools; a fourth grade teacher at both Center and Wolf Swamp schools; .5 positions in science, math, social studies and English language arts at Williams and Glen Brook middle schools; one full-time clerical position at the high school; one part-time clerical position in Pupil Services and the Central Office; and three high school teacher positions to be determined sometime in March, after class registration for the next academic year closes.
A health teacher position will be added at the high school, due to the School Committee's belief that a preventative health program will decrease the amount of high-risk incidences taking place at the high school.
"The cost of prevention is a fraction of the cost of intervention," School Committee member Rob Aseltine stated.
Resident Jerry Nolet asked if this was the final budget and if the school could accommodate any fluxes before the state's final budget is set.
Swanson replied that this budget is based on numbers provided in November 2008 and although the School Committee is voting on the budget on Feb. 9, the committee could amend the budget up until April 29.
"The budget is still fluid," School Committee member Armand Wray said. He encouraged parents and residents to e-mail the committee with their input on the budget.