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NLS School Board OKs $347K in budget cuts

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board unanimously approved $347,236 in budget cuts for the 2009-10 school year at the regular meeting Monday.

The cuts include the elimination of 2.83 full-time-equivalent teaching positions from the middle school and high sc-hool and funding for the paraprofessionals serving the kind-ergarten classes.

Five special education program aides will be cut, the PACT 4 social worker position serving the middle school and Prairie Woods Elementary will become a 0.6 FTE position and a media/library aide position at the middle/high school will be eliminated. Reductions were also made to the athletic trainer services used by the district, to the staffing and number of sporting events, and to summer contract extensions.

Superintendent Paul Carlson cautioned that the district's tight budget, declining enrollment and low fund balance are forcing the board to make as many budget cuts as possible. In addition, the district is forced to make difficult budget decisions before the legislature makes its final decision on school funding.

"It's hard to know what will come out of the legislative session," he said. "We will know more in June, when the legislature is done."

Immediately after the budget resolution passed, the board approved adding a full-time teacher for second grade. Board members David Kilpatrick and Renee Nolting both spoke in favor of the move, which would likely reduce the number of second-grade students per section from 26 and 27 to about 21 students per teacher. The lower student numbers would be in keeping with the district's guideline of having no more than 23 students per section in grades kindergarten to three.

Kilpatrick, the parent of a second-grade student, noted that there is a big difference in a class room of 26 or 27 students versus one with 21 to 23 students. "This district has always cared about class size, especially in the lower grades," he said. "I've heard from a number of parents who are concerned."