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Norwalk School Board Member Outlines Another Option for Cuts

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Board of Education member Steve Colarossi has seen the 2012-13 school budget cuts suggested by Superintendent of Schools Susan Marks. And he has heard the howls of protest from educators and the public. Now he is offering his own plan for cutting $7.8 million from the amount Marks requested from the city in December.

The "Kids First Alternative Plan" would cut 12 elementary school teachers – Marks' plan would cut 25, according to Colarossi – and would add an intervention aide in every elementary school except Jefferson Elementary. An assistant principal position at Jefferson Elementary marked for elimination by Marks would be retained.

Three library aides would be retained at the elementary level, while two Columbus assistant teacher positions, in addition to one previously cut by the Board of Education, would be eliminated.

Team leadership positions in the middle schools would be restored, along with the Norwalk High Transportation Technology program and nearly all teaching positions at both high schools.

Briggs High School would continue as an alternative in its current location "with a staff commensurate with its student population."

Colarossi's plan would save $342,000 by cutting one housemaster each at Brien McMahon and Norwalk High schools.

The plan takes a bigger bite out of the high school sports budget, carving out $36,000 from each school. Another $37,000 savings would be realized through what he calls a "modest" service fee for insurance for athletes and through rebidding the insurance contract.

Another $16,000 savings would come from cutting band travel at each high school by $8,000.

The deadline for the school budget request to be finalized is June 30.

"For the 2012-2013 school year, tough choices will need to be made as the original increase provided for Norwalk's schools is being partially reduced to repay a nearly $4,000,000 deficit," Colarossi wrote on his website . "The proposal offered by Supt. Marks to reconcile this budget reduction targeted elementary schools – offering half-day kindergarten and an elimination of critical intervention aides as the means to balance the budget for next year.

"When Norwalk's Board of Estimate and Taxation offered an additional $2,200,000 (meaning that the deficit reduction loan of $4,000,000 for this year would need to be repaid in one installment for 2012-2013 of $1,800,000 and in another installment for 2013-2014 of $2,200,000), most of the cuts to elementary schools were not restored."

Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte did not respond to a request for comment Monday night.

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