$1.25M cut from school budget; Funds for new positions slashed.


Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

SUTTON - Wrestling with a budget deficit that dates back months, and reeling from high heating-oil estimates, the School Committee last night approved a long list of cuts and adjustments that will bring the fiscal 2009 balance sheet into equilibrium.

By voting to eliminate all $314,588 budgeted for new positions, to hold off replacing several retirees, and to realize savings in several other areas, the committee made cuts totaling about $900,000. The committee also voted to increase the use of various revolving fund accounts. All totaled, the committee closed a fiscal 2009 budget gap of about $1.25 million.

The committee also voted to eliminate world language instruction in the elementary and early learning grades and eliminated two special education instructional aides and a high school position as part of the reduction.

The committee knew going into last month's annual town meeting that its budget was higher than what the town ultimately approved. The committee had been working with a deficit of about $1.1 million, but a fuel bid came in higher than expected - about $121,000 above what was budgeted for fiscal 2009.

The committee in recent weeks has been mulling options for reducing the gap. The committee discussed everything from trimming textbook and supply budgets to restructuring the middle school teaching system to save positions.

The middle school moves were averted; middle school Principal Deborah Cimo said she was able to restructure the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test support team to realize savings without drastically altering the popular team-teaching approach.

A secretarial position at the elementary school was slated to be eliminated, but the committee decided to re-insert it in its final vote on the cuts...

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