EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 17, 2013

Schools trim $3M from new budget

METHUEN — The School Department trimmed back a budget proposal to the minimum state requirement, outlining a reduction in current staff through attrition and reorganization, officials said.

Superintendent Judith Scannell said the proposed budget still would move forward with some education priorities, including enrichment programs for upper level grammar school students, reintroducing eighth-grade Spanish and several new math and reading tutors to bolster performance in the grammar schools.

“When they said no, you have to cut $3 million more, with a heavy heart I did it,” Scannell said. “I don’t want to put the city in a bad place. But my job is to look out for the kids and put out budget for them.”

The School Committee will have a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Great Hall at City Hall on Pleasant Street. On June 25, the City Council will consider the entire city budget, which includes the School Department.

According to the new proposal, which is posted on the School Department’s website, 10 program assistant positions would be eliminated if the proposal is approved. Scannell, who has resisted layoffs since becoming superintendent, said employees will not be laid off. The reductions will come through attrition and reorganization.

Eight of those positions will be in special education, she said.

The School Department also would reduce its planned purchase of iPads, an emphasis in the high school for the last several years, by half in the coming year and reduce some building maintenance costs.

“The buildings are in decent shape, but that’s hard because that’s an important piece to keep the buildings up to speed,” she said.

The proposal preserves the restoration of Spanish for eighth graders in all four grammar schools. Those courses will be taught by current language coaches. It also includes math and language arts enrichment in the grammar schools, and math and reading tutors in the early grammar school grades and the high school.

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