Cuts continue at city schools

NORWICH – Despite protestations by faculty that the district’s proposed budget reductions already cut too deep, Norwich’s Board of Education sent the administration back to the drawing board last week, tasked with identifying another $440,000 in potential cuts.

According to Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan, over $2 million has already been struck from the first run of the 2010-2011 budget, including some $940,000 in additional cuts since the district’s school board last saw it two weeks ago. But that will still leave Norwich taxpayers with a 7.4 percent tax levy increase, the administrator said. And that’s not something school board members are happy with.

“I want to see what ... a 3 percent tax levy (increase) looks like,” said Board President Bob Patterson, who explained that the current figure was higher than he’d like to present to the community.

As O’Sullivan outlined the cuts being proposed, he reiterated the board’s goal for the budget development process, which he said was to gain “community support of a budget that maintains core instructional integrity and is fiscally responsible.”

Those most current version of the budget, he explained, reflected a .91 percent reduction in spending over the prior year. According to the administrator, the total budget figure is already below the contingency level, which is what the district would be held to if the budget was defeated by voters in May.

“These are just options for the board to consider,” O’Sullivan reminded the board, as he reviewed the latest proposed cuts which focused on athletics, extracurriculars and staffing.

In athletics, the superintendent is proposing the elimination of two sports – cross country and fall cheerleading. In all other sports, the number of teams will be limited to one varsity, one junior varsity and one modified team. O’Sullivan has also suggested reducing the number of paid coaching positions for spring track, as well as for football.

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