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Projected deficit could force Arlington to cut 60 school jobs

Posted by Brock Parker  January 14, 2011 04:25 PM

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A projected $3.3 million budget deficit in the next fiscal year could force Arlington Public Schools to cut another 60 position in the upcoming school year.

Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Bodie said Friday the numbers are subject to change in the coming weeks as the district develops its preliminary budget and learns of funding levels in Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget proposal.

But the town is anticipating a 5 percent reduction in state aid, and Bodie said it would only compound the budget problems that forced Arlington to cut dozens of positions in the school district for the current fiscal year.

If the $3.3 million deficit holds, Bodie estimated 14-16 positions could be cut at Arlington High School, another 14-16 cuts would be made at Ottoson Middle School and 28-32 positions would be cut in the elementary schools. Bodie said positions that could be cut include faculty, administration and support staff.

The district will attempt to find ways to make cuts without laying off employees, but Bodie said that in recent years the schools have already slashed budgets for textbooks, professional development and supplies.

“We’ve really hit the bottom in terms of what is necessary to run a school system,” Bodie said.

Last year the school district faced a $4 million deficit and made several controversial moves to balance the budget, including the elimination of almost all of the traffic supervisors/crossing guards and raising athletic fees to levels that continue to draw protests from many parents.

Bodie said more cuts this year would be felt in the classroom. The number of students in middle and high school classes would likely be pushed up into the low to mid 30s. The district might also have to change some graduation requirements for students because Bodie said the district might not have enough personnel to offer its current level of foreign language classes.

A projected deficit of “3.3 million is very upsetting to a lot of teachers,” Bodie said.

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