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Woodridge Board Agrees to Combine 3rd- and 4th-Graders in Class

Board members then turn to task of cutting costs in case November levy fails.

The voted at a special meeting Thursday night to combine third-graders and fourth-graders in a class to help reduce class sizes in those two grades. 

The vote was to approve a memo of understanding between the school board and the Woodridge Education Association, which represents the district's teachers. The memo applies only for this class for the current school year, although a similar solution could be used again the next year. 

The board then turned its attention to what was described as a difficult task of deciding what cuts to make to the 2013-2014 school year budget if the fails. 

Superintendent Walter Davis presented a list of recommendations to the board that totaled $2.795 million in cuts to the district's 2013-2014 budget.

As Davis listed his recommended cuts to make, board members of the board found some of the cuts unpalatable.

"Nothing's going to be the same with these things that we cut," board President Tammy Heffernan said.

The board ended up pulling some recommendations off the table, at least until they're studied more closely, including cuts in athletic programs, advance placement classes, foreign languages and transportation.

Davis said cutting the athletic programs would be especially painful. "I tell you as your superintendent this would be a really tough thing to do away with: this school district without its rich tradition of athletic programs and what that does for our kids."  

The board did agree to make cuts starting with the 2013-2014 school year to the following if the November levy fails:

• One mechanic

• Two part-time health aides (provided via contract by Akron Children's Hospital; one registered nurse and a health aide will be retained)

• Equivalent of 1.5 guidance counselors

• One industrial technology teacher

• Three library tutors

• Three custodial aides (this would be part of a proposal to close the schools to extracurricular activities, clubs and other activities such as Boy Scout meetings after 6 p.m. in the schools.). 

Classroom teaching positions in jeopardy include:

• Three kindergarten teachers (and reduction of all-day, every day kindergarten) 

• Five Woodridge High School teachers

• Three Woodridge Middle School teachers

• Four primary school and intermediate school teachers. 

Davis warned that if these cuts go through, some longtime Woodridge teachers could find themselves out of work because they lack tenure.

The next Woodridge Board of Education meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept 18 at the high school.

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