Fleetwood Area School District proposes program cuts for the 2011-12 budget.

'Based upon our current projections, the budget must be reduced by at least $750,000 in order for the district to remain within the confines of the state established index plus exceptions,' said Dr. Paul Eaken, superintendent, during a budget workshop on Tuesday evening.

'In light of the situation, it may be necessary to eliminate programs,' said Eaken, superintendent.

The programs being considered are Classroom Driver Educational, Japanese, Latin and Elementary Strings. The cutting of these programs is contingent upon approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Eaken said that other proposed cuts include combining bus runs or switching from a three-tiered system to a two-tiered system, elimination of two teaching positions through attrition, reducing building and department budgets, implementing activity fees, evaluating athletic teams, reduction of assistant coaching positions, and freezing coachs' salaries. The combining of middle school offices and the elimination of programs was also proposed.

The district's efforts to contain costs began this past year.

Cost cutting efforts in 2010-11 budget included eliminating one game from all of the sports, cancellation of the track program expansion, increased fees and decreased hours for use of the facilities, elimination of four aide positions, closure of the high school weight room to the community, supply and library budget cuts, and teacher reassignments. There was also a reduction in the technology budget, elimination of a bus run, and requests for proposals for health insurance.

Despite a snowstorm, Fleetwood residents, including some students, voiced their opinions and concerns about the budget during a two-hour open discussion period followed by a board meeting.

Fleetwood student Jacob Wetherhold, 13, questioned how much money was saved from cutting the track expansion program and if bringing in outside sponsors would save the program.

'Sports are a way to relieve aggression,' said Matt Schlegel.

He also said sports are a way for kids to achieve athletic scholarships as a way to go to college.

Angela Percell said sports were a way to promote health and keep kids off the streets.

Although there were individuals in agreement with business sponsorship and the importance of sports, there were those who felt the focus should be on the education and not so much the sports, including David Martini.

Martini said sports are ancillary and need to be funded some other way.

Carol Kutz, a 30 year resident and German language teacher, commented on the lack of concern for education. She felt that SAT scores increase when Latin is studied. She talked about how an exchange student helped other students understand another culture better.

Kutz felt it was better to lose one bus run to save two programs-Latin and Japanese.

Besides sports and education, the issues of increased property taxes and busing changes drew comments as well.

Martini was concerned with people challenging property values forcing others to do the same and resulting in lost equity in homes.

There were concerns of increasing property taxes in a down economy. Although the general feeling was that the district has to do what is necessary, people were split on cuts and consolidation.

'The Board of Directors will continue to discuss the budget over the next few months, and as more more information becomes available, updates to the budget will be posted on the district's website,' said Eaken.

In addition to budget updates, Eaken plans on posting legislative contacts to the district's website at www.fleetwoodasd.k12.pa.us.

Read the full story in the Jan. 20 issue of The Patriot.

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