BEVERLY — The public is invited to speak tonight about a proposed school budget that includes the elimination of five elementary school special education teachers and the addition of six graduate students to help out in classrooms.
The $45.6 million budget represents a $1 million total increase over this year's budget, but also includes nearly $1 million in cuts to offset the end of federal stimulus money and increases in health insurance costs.
Superintendent Marie Galinski said the budget process has been helped this year by an increase in special education money from the state and by cost savings from 18 retirements.
"But it's still challenging in the respect that the budget is very bare-bones, so whenever you cut now, you're cutting basic instruction, which we don't want to do," she said.
The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Beverly High School auditorium.
The budget includes the elimination of five special education teachers in the Therapeutic Learning Center program, which assists elementary school students with social and emotional needs.
The program was funded with federal stimulus money, which runs out this year. Galinski said the program will be kept with the help of graduate students from the Merrimack College education fellowship program.
Beverly will use six of the graduate students in all, at a cost of $17,000 each, to assist teachers at the elementary and middle school levels.
"We pay their tuitions, and they work for us for the whole year," Galinski said.
The budget adds a foreign language teacher at the high school to comply with the new Common Core national standards that Massachusetts has adopted. It also adds an expressive-arts teacher at the middle school to deal with a large incoming sixth-grade class.
The budget eliminates a third-grade teacher at Centerville School and a fifth-grade teacher at Hannah School. Class sizes in those grades at those schools are expected to reach 29, just under the School Committee's guideline of 30.
"We'll watch those classes during the summer, and if there is contingency money, we'll add a teacher back," Galinski said.
Other changes include the elimination of the personnel director position, for a savings of $74,503. Overall, the budget includes a net reduction of the equivalent of 3.6 positions, Galinski said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.
Cut five elementary school special education teachers
Cut third-grade teacher at Centerville
Cut fifth-grade teacher at Hannah
Cut reading coaches at Hannah and North Beverly
Cut personnel director
Cut guidance counselor at high school
Eliminate 2 percent raises for nonunion employees
Reduce business manager's salary by $18,000
Add foreign language teacher at high school
Add expressive arts teacher at middle school
Add fifth-grade teacher at Ayers
Add six Merrimack College fellows at elementary schools and middle school