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4YK goes to 5 days; budget cuts aired

ELLSWORTH -- The 4-year-old kindergarten program will go from four to five days a week next fall.

Ellsworth School Board made that decision at a special meeting Monday. Board members also examined proposed districtwide budget adjustments.

Much of the kindergarten discussion was about how children at that age would fare under a five-day schedule. While some who spoke from the audience of approximately 40 people had reservations about the move, others were OK with it.

Board members ultimately approved the option among three presented, calling for programming five days a week at 2.5 hours per day. The vote was 5-2.

Supt. Barry Cain reviewed a list of potential budget adjustments for the 2010-11 school year. If implemented, this would result in a total impact of $617,443.

The board is expected to decide about the adjustments at a special meeting April 4.

The list includes the following non-personnel considerations and their budgetary impact amounts:

• raising extracurricular event entrance fee by $1 for adult tickets, $8,000;

• reducing technology support/purchases expenditures, $10,000;

• cutting co-curricular supplies, $5,000;

• moving to a high-deductible health insurance program for non-union personnel, $85,000;

• changing early intervention services staffing, $47,850.

Several personnel/program considerations and their budgetary impact amounts are on the list, including co-curricular personnel/programs like cheerleading, the SAGE program, music department reductions, eliminating seventh- and eighth-grade nonperforming music classes at the middle school, and middle school exploratory class reductions

For food service, the need to increase lunch and breakfast prices at some level to allow for upcoming equipment needs is foreseen. And energy efficiency projects to provide cost savings are being identified in cooperation with Focus on Energy.

Among responses from meeting attendees, Board Member Jeff Stockwell drew applause after he proposed tapping the fund balance instead of dropping SAGE, at least until a referendum can be held.

In other business:

- The retirements of EHS Science Teacher Dennis Zielinski, EMS Social Studies Teacher Will Hall, Hillcrest Music Teacher Ruth Lee, EHS Social Studies Teacher Mike Hall and Hillcrest Fourth Grade Teacher Judy Hall were accepted.

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