As part of a bid to lower the 6.5 percent property tax hike included in the Board of Finance’s approved spending plan, the Board of Education will have another $200,000 lopped off its budget.
That means the schools will make do with $5 million less than administrators initially figured they needed.
Even so, Superintendent Philip Streifer said Tuesday that he anticipates that there won’t be an impact on children in the classrooms across town.
To make the cuts, Streifer is eyeing a range of reductions in everything from custodial supplies to athletic uniforms.
Among the cuts is a reduction in the number of school employees. The equivalent of four full-time positions will likely be cut, Streifer said, though only by attrition.
Those positions can be eliminated, he said, because this year’s kindergarten class is unusually small.
He said, though, that any greater reduction in the proposed $101 million school budget and he’ll have to look into layoffs and cuts that might hurt the education students receive.
As it is, he said, there won’t be any margin of error in the budget that city councilors and the finance board are examining now.
If there are more special education students than expected or if student numbers rise above expectations, Streifer said he’d have to go to the finance board for more money to cope with the extra costs.
Barbara Doyle, who chairs the school board, said officials have “worked very hard over the last several years” to ensure Bristol’s schools were making required yearly progress in boosting tests scores.
If cuts are made, she said, there will be an effect on achievement.
“We don’t want to be taken over by the state,” Doyle said, so continuing to make progress is a necessity. Bristol is the only major urban district in the state that’s not in imminent danger of a takeover.
Streifer said that the legislature could worsen the situation if a $600,000 reading improvement grant doesn’t get funding, which would cost Bristol the money for six instructors and others who are focused on helping elementary and middle school students learn to read better.
Streifer said the cut is “irrational” and perhaps “the craziest thing” the state could cut given the success the program has had in Bristol.
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