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Saugus cuts won’t hurt jobs

Board trims $2.5 million from budget

Posted: February 5, 2009 11:20 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Saugus Union School District board members approved a $2.5 million cut to the 2008-09 year budget, most of which won't directly affect the classroom the rest of the academic school year, officials said.

"In talking with the administrators, at this point we feel that the impact will be very low on the classroom," said Superintendent Judy Fish.

The only cut that could potentially have an impact on students is the approval of transferring $10 from the daily student enrollment funding out of each of the school site's budget to the district's general fund.

Savings to the district are an estimated $104,000.

"It will sting a little bit in that we will have to be a little more judicious in our use of supplies," said Plum Canyon Elementary School Principal Mary Jane Kelly.

"That money is used for a variety of things to operate the school, both in the classroom and outside the classroom," Fish said. Along with the $10 transfer, the board Tuesday unanimously approved five out of the seven items presented as cost-cutting options, which adds up to a 3.2 percent reduction in the budget.

Members did not approved a district-wide unpaid day off, estimated to save $300,000, or the elimination of bus service, which would save about $70,000, said board president Judy Umeck.

Both items were differed as 2009-10 budget cut options.

An approved item, expected to save $70,000, requires that each of the district's 15 principals transfer their school site budgets to the district's general fund.

"The administrators volunteered to return this benefit ... as a means to keep any more severe cuts from coming to the classroom," Kelly said.

The district could save another $1 million by transferring maintenance funds to the district's general funds.

If district officials receive the flexibility in spending the governor proposes, officials could take $1 million from the money allocated from the maintenance funds and put it into the general fund, Fish said.

A district-wide hiring freeze to conserving utilities could save the district another $1.3 million, Fish said.

A final $100,000 savings comes from a reduction of insurance costs.

With every cut, the focus remains on the students.

"This is a tough time and it's one that I have not seen in my (36) years in education," Kelly said. "We're all trying to keep a positive attitude."


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