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Lebanon School Board to Discuss Proposed Budget Reductions

Lebanon — School administrators tonight will propose to the Lebanon School Board a revised 2014-2015 budget that includes cuts that the board ordered last month to come closer to the current year’s level of spending.

“They’re supposed to make a presentation to cut $1.2 million,” School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said on Tuesday. “Everything is on the table. Nothing is hands off.”

The school district is scheduled to unveil the final budget package at a public hearing on Jan. 15, and during a deliberative session on Feb. 1, voters will have a chance to either accept the package or restore money that might be cut.

In advance of tonight’s School Board discussion, which starts at 6:30 in Lebanon Junior High School, the system’s “leadership team is still working on budget cuts,” Superintendent of Schools Gail Paludi said on Monday, while declining to reveal how and where the team will cut.

According to the most recent budget report, administrators had proposed spending $3,471,035 on teacher salaries at Lebanon High School — an increase of more than $218,000, and including the pay for an “education technology integrator” — an additional $63,110 in teacher pay at Mount Lebanon Elementary School, and $37,490 more for teacher-aide wages at Hanover Street School.

In all, administrators have estimated that under the old nearly $40 million spending proposal, the budget increase included between $500,000 and $610,000 in wages and benefits that the district negotiated in union contracts, as well as $357,000 in bonuses and benefits for 13 teachers and several paraprofessionals who have retired.

Before the board, by a 5-2 vote, directed administrators on Dec. 11 to revise the budget, vice chairman Bob McCarthy described the $40.25 million package — a 3.1-percent increase over the current year — as containing “a lot of fluff” while declining to identify areas to cut. Paludi warned then that a cut of this scale could lead to teachers overseeing classes with more students and to fewer kindergarten classes than the elementary schools are seeking.

“We need to have kindergarten for children,” Paludi said that night. “Early intervention is essential.”

On Tuesday, Peavey said that since the board’s Dec. 11 decision to order cuts, he has not heard from taxpayers, parents or any other groups about where and how the schools should reduce spending.

“It’s been very quiet,” Peavey said.

At the Dec. 11 discussion, the only public input came from former School Board member Al Patterson, who presented a petition, with 155 signatures, urging the board to “keep the taxpayers’ budget the same as 2013 or less.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dacorriveau@gmail.com and at 603-727-3304.