PELHAM — A smaller operating budget than proposed won't mean any teacher layoffs or school program cuts, but it will mean trimming nearly $400,000 from the school district's spending plan, Superintendent Frank Bass said.

For the second time in three years, voters rejected the School Board's proposed operating budget.

The most recent vote was 2,138 to 1,716 against a $24.1 million operating budget in the March 11 election. That automatically means a $23.7 million default budget will kick in at the beginning of the new budget year July 1.

"We will now have to go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb," Bass said, "to find out what kinds of modifications and adjustments we can make" to live within the smaller budget.

It won't mean any teacher layoffs or program cuts, but it could involve something like putting off hiring a teacher's aide until next year, he said.

"We have to look at everything, including the number of teacher aides," he said. "We don't want to leave any stone unturned because there might be ways to save money that we didn't originally think of."

School principals and department heads will be contacted "to see where we can trim and what kinds of things we can put off until next year," Bass said.

The School Board is expected to review the budget when it meets Wednesday night at Pelham Elementary School.

School Board Chairman Bruce Couture said he believes the bulk of the decisions on where to trim spending should be left in the hands of school administrators, including principals and directors of different departments, such as special education and athletics.

"Obviously, we'll want to see what's been cut out to make sure we reach the default budget amount," he said.

Under separate warrant articles, voters also said no to spending money to hire an additional sixth-grade teacher at Pelham Memorial School, another physical education teacher for Pelham Elementary School, and a social studies teacher and a part-time business teacher at Pelham High School.

Warrant articles approved by voters include a proposal to spend $183,333 to finance the third year of a districtwide technology plan.

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