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Teachers decry principal plan

A standing room only crowd of elementary school teachers couldn’t sway the Aspen School Board from accepting a budget Monday that includes the paring down of its assistant principal position to half time.

A “united” Aspen Elementary School staff last night asked the board in a prepared statement to reconsider the district’s plan to combine the assistant principalships at the lower and middle schools. They argued it was in the students’ and school’s best interests to have a full-time assistant principal on staff.

“We’re fully aware of your concerns, and we hear what you’re saying,” responded school board President Jon Seigle. “But we’re very comfortable with the process that led to this decision.”

The school board was presented with a $14.5 million operating budget for 2004-05 that includes $500,000 in cuts. The scaled back budget represents the first stage of a three-year plan to eliminate a nearly $1 million budget deficit; the plan was created by Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko and finance director Bill Anuszewski, along with a financial advisory committee and board input.

Sirko said Monday night that $100,000 will be saved by eliminating one of the two assistant principal positions. If approved, Aspen Middle School assistant principal Paula Canning will become the new principal of that school; elementary school assistant principal Doreen Goldyn has been tapped for the joint middle and elementary school assistant principal position.

It is a move school board members have complete confidence in.

“I don’t see this as a negative,” said Sally Hansen. “It’s a real opportunity to use Doreen’s experience and make this work.”

Other cost-saving measures included in the budget now under consideration are the elimination of two special education positions, the scaling back of professional development programs and the end of free full-day kindergarten.

Although no opposition was aired at last night’s meeting, the decision to begin charging for full-day kindergarten raised the ire of many parents when it was approved in April.

Starting next year, parents will be charged $200 a month for full-day classes, unless they have other children in kindergarten or preschool, in which case they will be charged $100 a month. Families that qualify for federal free or reduced lunch programs will be charged $50 a month.

The federal government only reimburses districts for a half day of kindergarten, and the Aspen School District has traditionally covered the difference. Sirko said the new charges should bring around $95,000 to district coffers next year.

Following a 10-day public comment period, the school board is expected to approve the budget presented Monday night. The next meeting is scheduled for June 7.

` Jeanne McGovern’s e-mail address is jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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