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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Budget Committee asks School Board to cut budget $550k

WILTON – Due to declining enrollment, the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Budget Committee has asked the School Board to reduce its proposed 2012-13 budget by $550,000, a request that could mean eliminating as many as 10 staffers.

The figure would represent a roughly 5 percent cut in the operating budget from this year. The call for the cuts was met with alarm by some School Board members.

“I find the reduction alarming and irresponsible,” said board member James Button. This would cut programs and hurt kids.”

The two groups met Dec. 14 and will meet again Wednesday at the high school. The next regular meeting of the School Board is Jan. 10.

Enrollment in the district’s two towns has been stagnant or falling for years, part of the reason that the school districts were combined into one.

School Board members have already said they will inform the teachers’ association of a possible reduction in staff, as required.

Among the options the board is considering include cutting staff positions, reducing the number of courses offered, reducing the number of credits required for graduation, increasing class sizes and deferring maintenance.

At the request of Superintendent Trevor Ebel, assistant principal Susan Ballou prepared a chart showing all of the classes offered at the high school/middle school, who teaches them and the number of students in each class.

High school classes are offered at three ability levels with concentration on the math programs. Some Advanced Placement classes have fewer than 10 students. Some courses are offered alternate semesters or alternate years.

“To offer all levels to all students may result in some small classes,” Ebel said.

Ballou said reduction in staff would mean “fewer electives, larger class sizes, and could affect the A.P. program.” She added, “Scheduling would be a nightmare.”

High school principal Brian Bagley argued, “Small classes are one of the strengths of this school.”

He said the drop-out rate is very low and more students are going to “higher end colleges.”