PERU — This year’s fifth graders at Peru will remain in the intermediate school next school year.
School officials have gone ahead with budget cuts that included a controversial move to relocate sixth graders from the middle school and move them back to the intermediate school.
The measures, approved by the School Board, were part of more than $1 million in cost reductions.
“There had been a set of preliminary draft cost reductions that have been the focus of budget workshops, and the board took action on each of those 29 cost reductions,” said Interim Superintendent A. Paul Scott. “The board reduced the budget by just over $1 million.”
The school board will complete the budget development process at its April 17 meeting.
“The only major action is to formally establish a budget amount for next year’s spending plan,” Scott said.
The recent cost reductions approved by the school board also included the elimination of 7.8 instructional, 1.4 instructional-support, one administrative, one custodial, two transportation, one clerical support and one operations positions.
The board further reduced one class section at the first-, third- and sixth-grade levels.
Many parents have spoken out against the sixth-grade move, which will save the district money. Also, there is strong evidence that not integrating sixth grade students with seventh and eighth graders is beneficial to the younger students’ social, psychological and academic success.
“I expect this year’s fifth graders will have a good experience next school year, and they had a good experience this year,” Scott said.
Peru Central School’s proposed 2012-13 spending plan totals $40.4 million, a 2.63-percent decrease from the current budget.
The tax-levy increase of 2.84 percent falls within the district’s state-mandated limit.
“Every indication has been that the board will establish an expenditure plan within the current tax-cap threshold,” Scott said.
At the next meeting, the board is expected to approve a total budget amount that falls within the cap. Many districts are doing the same, though some, such as Plattsburgh City School, have indicated they will exceed the tax cap.
“I fully anticipate the board will establish a budget that will fall within the property cap threshold,” Scott said.
He said there had been discussion of exceeding it, but board members are aware that many households and district residents are facing tough times financially. They understand that Americans are in the very early stages of a recovery, Scott said.
“It appears the board is very much wanting to reflect their awareness of resident and household and community challenges.”
Scott said that while the cuts were extremely painful, the district is operating more efficiently and that all programs in place this school year will remain intact.
“And all students will be staying in the building they are in this year,” Scott said.