Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

While rumors of axed middle school athletics and other programs were unfounded, seven staff positions are to be eliminated under the proposed spending plan.

This year’s budget was tough enough without the rumors, according to North Warren Regional School District’s superintendent.

North warren board meeting march 2015Rumors of drastic cuts brought parents, teachers and students out to Monday’s North Warren school board meeting, where the budget was introduced.

While fears of axed middle school athletics and other programs were unfounded, Brian Fogelson still had to inform some staff members that their jobs could be eliminated.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my career,” the superintendent said Wednesday.

Seven staff positions, including teachers and a guidance counselor, are to be cut under the proposed $16.9 million budget introduced Monday before a large audience of residents, teachers and students.

The biggest problem is declining enrollment, Fogelson said.

The district — which covers Blairstown, FrelinghuysenHardwick and Knowlton townships — had 1,132 students in the 2008-9 school year, he said. Next year’s projected enrollment is 895, and it is expected to continue dropping.

Since a decline in state aid five years ago, the district has tried to limit the tax impact by keeping budget increases below a state-mandated cap, which left little money to draw upon, Fogelson said.

The two factors combined to necessitate this year’s cuts, he said.

Rumors of severely slashed departments or programs arose as the school board’s finance committee weighed budgetary options against a staff “wish list,” according to Fogelson and a notice on the district’s website.

“These rumors were based on … initial discussion points and not the proposed recommendations from the finance committee,” the notice said.

However, the rumored cuts got people out to Monday’s school board meeting. Fogelson said that was a good development, and that people’s ideas to improve the budget will be taken into consideration.

“People were there to support programs, to support staff,” Fogelson said. “I felt that the tone of the meeting overall was positive.”

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 4.

NORTH WARREN BUDGET AT A GLANCE

Total: $16,908,320

Change from previous year: Up $253,197, or 1.52 percent

Tax impact (based on $100 of assessed property value)

  • Blairstown Township — 72 cents
  • Frelinghuysen Township — 75.5 cents
  • Hardwick Township — $1.019
  • Knowlton Township — 90.8 cents