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Norwalk schools approve $943,000 in cuts, reductions

Cary Ashby • Feb 16, 2014 at 10:55 PM

"With deep regret, I make these recommendations."

That's what Norwalk City Schools Superintendent Dennis Doughty told the board Tuesday when he requested approval of $943,000 worth of cuts. The reductions, which the board approved, would go into effect if the emergency operating levy on the May 6 ballot fails.

The cuts include four teaching positions, which would be part of a reduction in force (RIF) and equate to a savings of $300,000. Those positions are a Norwalk High School business teacher and one music, physical education and art teacher each in the district.

The district also plans to eliminate two librarians (a savings of $150,000), eight building aides in the district ($160,000) and one administrative assistant in the central office ($25,000). Doughty said cutting the librarians would result in the ultimate closure of libraries at NHS, Norwalk Middle and Main Street schools.

The remaining reductions include:

-- Increasing current athletic participation fees to $200 per sport at the high-school level and $100 at the middle school (a savings of $150,000).

-- Charging an additional fee of $50 per club and co-curricular activity to cover the costs associated with the activity ($100,000).

-- Reducing the current level of athletic and co-curricular contracts by 10 percent ($30,000).

-- Reducing the extended time for seven staff members ($13,000).

"Cutting and eliminating extended time means there will be a reduction in services and support during the summer months and those days prior to the start of school. This reduction will impact class registration, counseling services (and) child find at the early elementary level and other support services," according to information from the district.

-- Reducing and adjusting administrative staffing ($15,000).

Citing the five-year forecast, Doughty said the district should have $900,000 in deficit next year, so the aforementioned cuts and reductions of $943,000 will help be a step toward balancing that figure.

Board president John Lendrum said the district's goal is to balance the budget and given the financial situation, the only way to do that is losing programs and positions.

Doughty said there are some expected retirements and as a result, there could be less RIFs. He said the district could absorb those teaching positions through attrition instead of cutting them. The board is expected to know which teachers might retire about June.

Board member Steve Linder said the $943,000 in cuts and reductions doesn't appear to be much to him.

"But it's a start," he added.

The school board also asked Doughty to look into the potential savings that would be gained if the district closed League Elementary for good. To read a story about that subject, click HERE.

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