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East Lyme - The Board of Education voted Monday night to suspend the elementary-school foreign language program for next year and reduce or eliminate other items from its proposed 2013-14 budget in response to a need to cut $690,000.
The school board made the cuts at its meeting Monday in light of a $650,000 reduction to its proposed education budget by the Board of Finance this spring. The school district also had to account for $40,000 in increased magnet school tuition.
In a 6-4 vote, the school board supported cutting the foreign language program for third and fourth grades for the 2013-14 school year.
"I'm hopeful that in very short order we will be able to reinstate the program, as we continue to seek ways to reduce our costs," said Superintendent of Schools James Lombardo, who added that a committee would work next year to develop a more "robust" elementary-school foreign language program. At the last meeting, Lombardo discussed how a lack of time in the short elementary-school day presented some challenges for a full foreign language program.
The board further voted 7-2, and with one abstention, to approve a list of other budget reductions, including eliminating a high-school Spanish teaching position of $85,000, which Lombardo said was due to reduced enrollment. The elimination of the elementary program means cutting a full-time foreign language position of $65,000.
The board further cut $133,000 set aside to support the state-mandated teacher evaluation system, which the district will implement for the first time next year to evaluate one-third of staff next year. Reducing substitute pay by $24,000; spending $10,000 less for supplies for the new full-day kindergarten program; and realizing $80,000 in health care savings were among the items approved at Monday's board meeting.