School Board makes cuts to balance budget

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After months of dissention, the Alexandria School Board finally has a balanced budget. They voted unanimously at a special meeting on Monday night, to trim $2,083,586 from their budget to bring it in line with the money approved by City Council on May 7.

I had hoped we would not have to touch any classroom personnel but, given what we had to work with, I think this is a fair budget, said Board Member Scott Newsham.

Board Member Charles Wilson agreed saying, We found cuts that we could all agree on and have moved forward, he said in an earlier interview.

The School Boards budget process began in December when Superintendent Rebecca L. Perry submitted her proposed budget to the Board. That budget exceeded City Councils suggested target by $6.8 million. City Manager James Hartmann cut the school systems budget by that amount and City Council restored $4.7 million of those cuts.

The largest cut, by far, was $696,566, the cost of a .5-percent Cost of Living Adjustment. The board had recommended that school staff receive a COLA of two percent and council approved a COLA of only 1.5 percent.

Next, the board reduced its contribution to staff health benefits by $289,641. The board then reduced the early retirement incentive program by $240,000. The Board also cut $147,080 from the Information Technology Department. The Curriculum and Instruction department was cut by $118,500 and central office spending was reduced by $74,519. Mount Vernon Community School lost a paraprofessional and Douglas MacArthur Elementary School gave up a half-time assistant principal.

This was a very challenging process that clearly needs reformed and we are working on that, said Board Chairman Arthur Peabody. Our Budget Committee will bring forward recommendations very soon.

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