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Salem - In a unanimous vote, the Board of Education on Monday failed to approve cuts that would bring the proposed 2014-15 school budget down to $10.5 million, hoping to send a signal to the Board of Finance that they find that amount unacceptable.
Although the school administration found a way to save the programs beloved by parents - sports, languages, the late bus - and still cut the necessary $300,000, they felt the remaining cuts would have a dramatic effect on school quality.
"In my time on the board, we have cut back on our budget to the point of pain," said school board member George Jackson, who said school quality will suffer with additional cuts.
"We can't keep cutting," agreed school board member Sam Rindell, who said he felt the board of finance "pulled the ($10.5 million) number out of a hat."
School board members acknowledged that board of finance members and the public, through a referendum, are responsible for determining the final budget number and that they may eventually be forced to make the cuts.
But they felt strongly that they needed to send a signal that they found the cuts unacceptable.
Before taking a vote, school board Chairman Stephen Buck warned board members to be prepared for the consequences, such as an even lower final budget.
"Civil disobedience is fine," he said, "as long as you're willing to pay the price."