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District may face job cuts

The Frontier School District may have to cut the equivalent of nearly 40 teaching positions, along with 17 support staff and 2.4 administrative positions as part of a sweeping plan to help close a $4.9 million budget shortfall for the 2012-13 school year.

The projected staff reductions came at the end of the administration's budget overview during Tuesday's School Board meeting.

The budget pain could deepen beyond what was disclosed, since another $937,628 must be reduced to get to the district's allowable tax levy amount. While the projected staff cuts would help close the gap, along with other reductions in athletics, BOCES services, enrichment and extra-curricular activities, among additional trims, the administration acknowledged that it still must shave another $937,628 that could result in even more staff cuts.

The projected staff reductions represent a 9 percent cut in the teaching staff, including full- and part-time workers, a 5.5 percent cut to support staff, and a 7 percent cut in the administrative area.

The projected cuts throughout the district -- which would result in some larger class sizes -- put the proposed budget at $72.21 million. The current school year's budget is $74.6 million.

"It's a beginning. It's not etched in stone," Superintendent James Bodziak said.

The administration did not yet disclose publicly which specific positions would be cut and would not yet say which sports, programs or extra-curricular activities would have to be scrapped. A more complete list of actual staff that would face cuts is expected to be known by the board's meeting next Tuesday.

Bodziak acknowledged that staff "bumping" rights and seniority will play a part in how things shake out. He also said he's willing to consider other suggestions by board members for further reductions, but warned that if something is added back to the budget, something else must come out.

"This is hard work. We have to change our paradigm and change the way we run our district," he said. "We have no choice."

At the same time, the district is in the midst of negotiations with its teachers, who have been working without a contract that expired last June.

Mark Gillen, who has two children in the district, said it's important for the board to continue focusing on the essentials.

"I'm a believer in the basics," said Gillen, a former PTA president. "I encourage all of us to make the hard decisions. You're making the hard, right decisions. From my perch, I'd encourage you to keep making these hard decisions."

Bodziak stressed that the proposed cuts will not devastate programs. "There will still be art, music and some sports. The children will still have band, music lessons and art. It just may be in a different format."

Board member Janet MacGregor Plarr noted that it's important for the district to compile a detailed list of all affected staff. "We are affecting families and peoples' livelihoods," she said. "We also have to look at course selections. We didn't touch specific subject matter that needed to be touched."