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January 06. 2013 10:41PM

Teacher's aide positions back in Londonderry school budget

LONDONDERRY - A proposal to eliminate 31 part-time teaching assistant positions next year was shot down during Thursday night's Londonderry School Board budget workshop.

Eliminating the positions would save the school district $250,000 next year. The move was proposed by Superintendent Nathan Greenberg last month as part of a district-wide plan to keep taxes level in the face of current budgetary challenges, including the rising cost of retirements and a decline in state and federal aid.

During an earlier workshop, elementary school principals Carol Mack, Linda Boyd and Mary Coltin outlined plans to make up for the cut positions by restructuring the remaining staff and having children work in smaller groups with the help of educational specialists. At the time, school administrators stressed that the cuts wouldn't affect the learning process, though not everyone was readily convinced.

"What are we really losing here?" board member John Robinson asked, while fellow board member Leitha Reilly said she "wasn't comfortable changing school policy on the basis of a budget decision."

On Thursday evening, Robinson and three fellow board members voted in favor of restoring $250,000 to the proposed budget, thus preserving the teacher's aide positions.

Board member Steve Young voted nay on the item. Young said he supported the superintendent's earlier decision and worried a higher school budget would have adverse effects on the pockets of struggling taxpayers.

Greenberg said the $250,000 being restored to the budget would be partially supplemented by the tuition revenue coming from 19 out-of-district students. Those funds weren't included in the initial draft of next year's budget. Those revenues will total $66,400, forcing the district to find cuts elsewhere in order to keep taxes nearly the same.

As it stands, a 49-cent increase on residential tax rates is anticipated in the coming fiscal year. A public hearing on the proposed $66.05 million school budget will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Moose Hill Council Chambers at Londonderry Town Hall.

aguilmet@newstote.com

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