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PCS Latin teacher asks board to reconsider cut

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POTSDAM - High school Latin teacher Lynette Maxson urged board of education members to consider restoring her job to a full-time position at Tuesday night’s public hearing on Potsdam Central’s proposed 2012-13 spending plan.

The position is being cut from full-time to part-time next year as the district begins to phase out the program. The original proposal called for the position to be eliminated entirely in 2012-13, but concern over what would happen to students already enrolled in Latin led the board to restore half of the position.

“Currently there are 29 kids signed up for Latin I next year,” she said, explaining several students have asked her if there was any way they could take Latin over the summer and jump into Latin III next year.

“The interest and commitment from the students is there,” Ms. Maxson said, explaining statistics show Latin students do better in math, science, English and on average score better on the SATs than students taking another foreign language.

“The admissions department at Yale considers a B in Latin to be worth at least an A, if not more, in another language,” she said. “I would ask that you keep our humble program in your thoughts as you make these decisions.”

Mary Ashley Carroll, who is one of six candidates seeking election to the school board, agreed.

“That cut was one of the ones that concerned me,” she said. “I would echo her concerns. I think it’s a detriment to our students to not have that.

Sandra D Morris, another school board candidate, questioned Mr. Brady on projected class sizes in the elementary school for next year.

“In the end there were no cuts to teachers at the elementary level,” Mr. Brady said. “Our class sizes there are manageable. We didn’t cut any teachers, but we didn’t add any.”

Mr. Brady said maintaining reasonable class sizes in the elementary level has always been a concern for the district.

“We’ve always looked at trying to maintain reasonable class sizes, especially at the primary level,” he said.

Ms. Morris suggested shuffling staff to further reduce class sizes in the elementary school.

“I would move staff around so there could be lower numbers,” she said. “I know you can do that after this, but this seldom happens.”

While the board of education voted to restore many proposed cuts to the budgets, several cuts do remain in the district’s final $27,782,798 spending plan.

The proposal still includes several cuts, with a .5 cut slated for business, family and consumer science, Latin, and music teachers. The budget also cuts the dean of student’s position, two keyboard specialists, five teacher aides and the district’s golf and cheerleading programs.

The proposal is a 3.8 percent or $989,363 spending increase over the current year’s budget.

It also uses $2,147,546 in fund balance and reserves, while calling for a 2.9 percent tax levy increase, an increase that exceeds their maximum allowable tax levy by 0.9 percent or $99,624.

“We heard loud and clear from some members of this board and the public that we needed to tighten things up and use some more fund balance,” Mr. Brady said, adding that prior to the financial crisis hitting the district was only using $600,000 in fund balance each year.

“If funding does not change, we’ll have some very difficult decisions down the road,” he said.

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of the budget. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the school and since the proposal exceeds the tax limit 60 percent plus one vote approval is needed in order for the budget to pass.

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