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Westport Superintendent Spells Out $250K in Cuts

Relying more on electronic communication, handing down desks and chairs from the high school and cutting a physical education staff position were all suggestions Westport Superintendent Elliott Landon proposed to the Board of Education as ways to reduce the schools budget by $250,000.

On May 4, the Representative Town Meeting — the town's legislative body — approved a total 2011-12 education budget of $112.43 million, $98.1 million of which is set as the operating budget. Originally, the Board of Education sought $98.3 million for its operating budget, but the Board of Finance voted to cut that by $250,000 in March. As the Board of Education did not fight the cut, it must find places to reduce costs.

"We will be able to absorb part of this cut through a reduction of 0.1 in physical education staff because as we assign students at the high school and look at the number of sections we have at the elementary and middle schools, we find that we need essentially one half-day less per week" in physical education, Landon told the board. "So we'll be able to take a $5,800 cut" in physical education.

Other suggestions from Landon included:

• Reducing the English as a Second Language staff by 0.6 to have a total of four staff members. This will result in a savings of $34,800.

• Having student ambassadors at Staples High School and other Staples students run the freshmen school tours instead of teachers and other staff. This will save $15,000.

• Cutting the district's health insurance reserve by $100,000.

• Transferring two underused kilns from Staples to Coleytown Middle School instead of buying new ones. This will save about $5,100

• Forcing further reductions in postage and printing by encouraging more electronic communication.

• Using extra desks and chairs from the high school at Kings Highway Elementary, instead of buying $3,300 worth of new furniture.

The Board of Education will vote on Landon's suggested cuts at its May 23 meeting.

What do you think of some of Superintendent Elliott Landon's proposed cuts?

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