City school cuts get cold reception
By Josh O’Gorman
Staff Writer | January 10,2013
Rutland School Board members left their meeting with more questions than answers after reviewing city school budget proposals that cut between 11 and 14 jobs.
Superintendent Mary Moran presented two budget-reduction scenarios Tuesday night. The first contained about $627,000 in reductions from 11 positions ranging from para-educators, volunteer and home-school coordinators, and a nurse. The second proposal includes those cuts, plus three classroom teachers.
While the cuts follow a mandate from the board following their meeting Dec. 11, some board members expressed dissatisfaction with where the cuts were being made.
“If I have to make more cuts, I want to be able to morally say, ‘I agree with your cuts,’” board member Rob Towle told administrators, echoing a desire among other members to review the budget more closely.
Under the initial proposal in December, the school budget would increase $2,587,136, or 5.7 percent, from $45,157,547 to $47,744,683. The newest proposals offer additional cuts that bring the increase to less than 5 percent.
The first proposal, which cuts 11 jobs, would inflate the budget 4.9 percent, or $2,200,083, to $47,357,630. The second proposal cuts an additional three jobs for an additional savings of about $175,000, increasing the budget $2,020,083, or 4.5 percent, to $47,177,630.
The proposed job cuts did not sit well with some board members.
“I don’t agree with cutting jobs in this economy,” said board member Kate Thomas.
Board member Jamie Pemrick also expressed reluctance to cut teacher positions if it is possible to make cuts elsewhere in the budget.
“Before we start cutting teachers, there are a bunch of areas I’m not comfortable with,” Pemrick said.
The School Board voted to hold a special meeting Tuesday night, seeking answers to questions they will email to district Chief Financial Officer Peter P. Amons, who said the easy cuts had already been made in years past.
“There isn’t any fun fat left to cut,”Amons said. “The time of chop and pick are long gone.”
Board member Richard Courcelle remained adamant that further cuts are necessary.
“If we go out with this budget, it will be defeated,” Courcelle said, noting the proposed city budget is rising at the same time workers are seeing an increase in their payroll tax.
“If (the budget) goes down, it will be ugly, in terms of the cuts we’ll have to make,” he said.