East Lyme school board considers $550,000 in spending reductions

East Lyme - The Board of Education continued discussions Tuesday on how to reduce its 2014-15 spending plan by $550,000 and could make a decision at its next meeting.

The town's overall budget of $65,113,598, approved at last week's referendum, allocates $42,792,767 to education. The Board of Finance had reduced the education budget by $550,000 in previous deliberations.

The board had proposed removing new positions intended to support the state-mandated teacher evaluations, including bus monitors, deans of students, an assistant principal and a districtwide technology consultant, from the budget. The reduction for these position amounts to $378,258.

Instead of moving forward with the new positions, the board has decided to, during the upcoming school year, collect data on the needs of the district in implementing the evaluations.

"We're not going to reduce programs or teaching positions based upon our best projections," said board Chairman Tim Hagen on Tuesday. "We're going to let the real data come in."

Other reductions include cutting some maintenance projects, including door replacements at Lillie B. Haynes and Flanders Elementary schools, and technology resources.

The school board will next meet at 7 p.m. on June 9 at East Lyme High School.

The board also asked district administrators to take a closer look at the Coastal Connections program, a high school program that blends coursework with internships. Currently, the program stands at 13 students, but Assistant Superintendent Brian Reas said the district hopes to have 20 to 25 students next year, which would lower the program's cost per pupil. The district is also contacting guidance counselors in other districts to let them know about the program.

The board wants to review the program at a meeting in September once the district has a firmer idea of the number of students enrolled for 2014-15.

- Kimberly Drelich

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