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CONTINGENCY BUDGET WILL BRING CUTS

Students in the Starpoint Central Schools will probably have no interscholastic sports, a minimum of teacher aides and not even a yearbook come September.

After seeing voters twice reject budgets this spring, the School Board will meet at 7:20 p.m. Monday to adopt a contingency plan.

Although Board President Diane J. Braun said Thursday that she was not sure what the contingency budget would total, a flier sent to residents before the second vote said it could be $25.33 million, an increase of 8.08 percent from the 2000-01 plan.

The same flier said that the average tax rate under the contingency plan would be $19.29 per $1,000 of assessed valuation -- an increase of 12.3 percent.

Braun said that she guessed that the voters felt the second proposed plan of $26.2 million, with an average tax of $20.60, was still too high.

She also cited a flier sent out by a district resident with inaccurate information as a contributing factor in the the second budget's defeat.

Voters in May turned down the first proposal of $26.6 million that would have increased the tax rate by an average of 14.8 percent.

Braun said that the contingency budget will have implications for the students.

"It means there's no (interscholastic) sports unless we raise $230,000, and there will be no after-school activities, either."

Braun added, "We certainly cannot cut academic programs and put sports back in. That would not be in the best interest of anyone."

In addition, since the state Education Department has not mandated fourth-grade band and music, those programs could die under the budget ax as well.

Braun said that she will not move to cut extended-day kindergarten. The district held its first year of extended-day kindergarten in 2000-01. "That would be going backward," Braun said.

School Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan said that the board needs to adopt the budget by July 1.

Whelan outlined what will probably be cut under the contingency plan:

The senior prom.

All teacher aides, except those that are needed by state law in special education classes.

All co-curricular activities, which include yearbooks, drama clubs, language club, the honor society, student council and Odyssey of the Mind.

Interscholastic sports.

Department chairman stipends in the high school.

The district athletic director.

Four school buses, bringing the number down to 28.

Free use of space by the community throughout the centralized school.

O School Board Vice President William D. Patterson said he believes the district can still provide a reduced interscholastic sports program. He said that the sports boosters could probably raise enough money to fund only varsity sports, but not junior varsity and modified offerings.

In addition, the district would provide no bus services to games and Patterson suggested that only league games could be played. With 600 students participating in interscholastic sports in 2000-01, Patterson said it cost the district almost $400 per student per sport.

"We're already chopping the blazes out of our curriculum. . . . We're having huge losses in our academic program," said Patterson."

Monday's meeting will be in the district board room, 4363 Mapleton Road.

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