Cuts in Teachers, Programs for M-E Elementary Schools

By Erika Mahoney

February 15, 2013 Updated Feb 15, 2013 at 6:50 PM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Elementary school staff cuts in the Maine-Endwell School District are inevitable.

School officials say the decisions are tough, necessary and wrought with consequences. But something must be done to fill a $3.8 million hole in their budget.

In the third budget meeting of the year, elementary school principals presented their proposals to save money in their respective schools.

Between Maine Memorial and Homer Brink, 28 positions could be on the chopping block, including five teachers.

"They've given you all that they have and some of them won't be here," Homer Brink Principal Bill Dundon said. "That's really hard, from a human standpoint."

The job cuts mean class sizes could increase to accommodate between 20 and 27 students.

Other proposed changes to staff include the elimination of two librarians and learning lab teachers, a reduction in program aid and support and the elimination of numeracy teachers.

One board member was particularly concerned about the proposed cut to numeracy teachers. He said a cut to math help could leave students who need that extra attention and time overwhelmed.

As the board member expressed his concerns, teachers in the audience nodded along.

Dundon said facing the possibility of cuts is challenging, as every teacher in the district wades uncharted waters. But he also said he believes in his staff.

"The thing on the horizon that is encouraging is everyone that is still going to be here is a proficient, expert, ultra-professional teacher and they know how to teach math," Dundon said.

It's not just jobs on the line, but programs as well. One proposal eliminates band and orchestra programs for fourth and fifth grade.

One parent who declined to give her name said the potential cut in music offerings broke her daughter's heart.

She said she sent her three kids to M-E because of the district's rich offerings. Now, she says she is saddened as those offerings dissolve before her eyes.

M-E Superintendent Jason Van Fossen expressed to everyone in the middle school tonight, fixing a four-year structural deficit is no easy task, especially when it's being tackled in one year.

He also made it clear the district is not alone. Neighboring schools are facing similar situations due to increasing costs for state mandates and decreasing state aid.

More discussion on the M-E budget is ahead. The board will vote on a budget in April.

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