Up to three school days to be cut in Union

Written by By Dick Mason The Observer June 29, 2012 12:12 pm
The Union School District will not be reducing its Spanish teacher position in 2012-13 and will cut at least one less school day than originally anticipated.

UNION — The Union School District will not be reducing its Spanish teacher position in 2012-13 and will cut at least one less school day than originally anticipated.

This was the good budget news announced at Wednesday night’s Union School Board meeting, news that brightened an otherwise somber budget picture. The board voted to adopt a 2012-13 budget of $4.513 million, which calls for about $240,000 in cuts. Up to three school days and three teaching and non-teaching positions will be cut to make these reductions. 

The cuts are less than what the district budget committee had recommended on June 5 in part because of additional funds that have become available.

The budget picture is brighter for the following reasons:

• The district’s ending fund balance is about $12,000 higher than anticipated because of conservative budget estimates.

 • A full-time high school teacher recently resigned. The district will hire a half-time teacher to replace the person in this position.

The additional funding will allow the district to reduce the number of school days it will cut in 2012-13 by at least one day to three. Union School District Superintendent Jon St. Germaine urged the board to do this because the district had promised its teachers that the number of school days cut would be reduced if the district’s financial situation improved. Each school day cut costs teachers an average of $300 a year. The district will save about $10,000 for each school day cut.

St. Germaine said there is a real chance that more than one day will be added back because of the district’s improved financial situation.

The budget committee had recommend that the district cut its part-time Spanish teacher position by one third but asked the board to look for ways to avoid doing this if possible. The board was able to restore the position by cutting the travel budgets for athletics and activities by $9,000. The savings will be used to maintain the part-time Spanish teaching position at its present status.

The move means the Spanish teacher will continue instructing three classes a day at Union High School. The teacher would have taught two classes a day had his position be reduced. The teacher also instructs three Spanish classes in the Cove School District during the school year.

Following are the personnel reductions that will be made as part of the budget adopted: 

• One half of a kindergarten teaching position. Savings: $24,418 in salary and benefits. The position was originally cut a year ago but was added back late because Union’s kindergarten enrollment was higher than expected.

• The district’s media center-librarian position. Savings: $80,912 in salary and benefits. The district will continue to offer library services despite this cut.

• A special education aide position. Savings: $34,783 in salary and benefits.

• The district’s band coach position. Savings: $2,500, which had been paid as a stipend.

The budget also calls for the high school wrestling program to be club status. This will save the district $8,000. The wrestling program will have a volunteer head coach.

The budget also calls for reductions in expenditures for textbooks, computer leases, utilities, science computers, maintenance equipment and computer software. This will save the district about $52,000.