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Committee cuts budget

By Dan Cooper, Staff Intern

EAST LONGMEADOW- The School Committee voted on May 7 to approve a reconciled budget with a restructured $375,000 and $170,000 worth of cuts as recommended by the Appropriations Committee.

"We emerged from the last joint meeting between the School Committee and Appropriations Committee and they asked us to cut part of our budget," Superintendent Dr. Edward Costa explained. "We cut parts that we don't need at the moment but will need in the future."

Costa said that $375,000 was needed to pay for Special Education costs. "There is nothing we can do about that money," he said. "It came as a surprise to us that it needed to be added."

Costa added that a surprise is anything added to the budget that was not originally accounted for.

"We are glad to have the diagnosis for Special Education students, we just did not account for them on the original budget," he said. "By federal law, we need to start servicing these children at age three, which is why the costs are high."

Costa said it is the School Committee's responsibility to take care of the children.

"None of the budget cuts are easy," Costa said. "Everything is the right answer. Everything we do we live with. We need all the things that are being cut, but we cannot do it this year."

Chair Bob Mazzariello said, "It saddens me to see these significant parts of the budget deleted, but we will try to bring them back over time."

Costa said East Longmeadow is still in good shape because the town is still growing.

Some of the cuts included changing a full-time reading teacher to part time and doing away with the adjustment counselors at Birchland Park Middle School and the high school.

The School Committee also voted to grant a student a Certificate of Attainment and award him a diploma as soon as possible.

A Certificate of Attainment is awarded to high school students who meet graduation requirements but failed to pass the MCAS test.

"This student has taken the test numerous times and has given his all to pass it," Costa said.

In other business, the School Committee accepted the ice cream bid for the 2007-2008 school year from New England Ice Cream at $30,996, the milk bid from Garelick Farms-Lynn at $66,111, the paper bid for menus from Mansfield Paper Co. at $30,425 and the bread bid from Charles Freihofer Baking Co. at $29, 421.