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Saugus Union School District adopts budget

Posted: June 16, 2009 9:55 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Despite the lack of a state budget, Saugus Union School District board members Tuesday adopted its 2009-10 fiscal-year budget in the face of ongoing, deep cuts to education funding.

It was announced that the deficit for the 2009-10 fiscal year is $8 million.

“Out of all the budgets that I’ve ever presented to the board, this is the one I’m least comfortable with,” said Bob Cutting, assistant superintendent of business during his presentation.

Without an approved state budget, school districts are basing their budgets on the governor’s budget proposal.

School districts are required to submit their balanced 2009-10 fiscal year budgets by the end of the month.

“This is our best effort at that attempt,” Cutting said.

To address the 2009-10 deficit, the district has made reductions from a variety of sources, which include reducing the number of assistant principals by five, eliminating bus transportation for students, and consolidating custodians, among other reductions.

Kindergarten through third-grade class sizes will range from 20 to 23 students, as well.    

As a whole, the reductions have saved the district about $3 million and more cuts could be made, Cutting said.

Still, district officials expressed their concern with creating a balanced budget.

“It gets increasingly difficult for us to continue to stay the course and make sure we don’t take cuts from programs any more than we have to,” Superintendent Judy Fish said Tuesday.

Putting together a balanced budget in the face of ongoing cuts to education has been a group effort.

“Everyone of our groups has taken it on the chin as we look to come forward with a balanced budget,” Fish said.

But before the 2009-10 fiscal-year budget could be discussed, board members addressed a $2.1 million budget cut for the current fiscal year handed to Saugus Union from the state on June 5, just 25 days before the 2008-09 fiscal year was to end, Cutting said.

To address the reduction, board members Tuesday approved a transfer of $2.1 million in funding from its retirement benefit fund and capital improvements reserve.

The last-minute reduction was unsettling to district officials.

 “I am concerned that the state would make that much of a budget reduction,” Cutting said, referring to the $2.1 million reduction.

The required transfer in funds allows the district to end the 2008-09 fiscal year with an $80,000 balance, Cutting said.



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