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Eldred facing serious cuts; Sports program considered

Eldred officials and parents discussed eliminating the sports programs to save money.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Guy Charles Harriton
February 27, 2013

The board of the Eldred Central School District is still wrestling with how to balance the budget for the next school year, and the sports program was the topic of discussion at a workshop on February 26. A majority of the 35 residents in attendance supported the idea of cutting the sports program in order to save nearly $300,000.

However, school board president Doug Reiser, a basketball coach for 25 years, was adamantly opposed to the idea, stating that some students learn their best lessons after 2 p.m.

Following the meeting, he told The River Reporter that a school that ends at 2 p.m. only provides for half an education. He said he doesn’t want to see a mass exodus of students when the final bell rings, leaving students without an agenda.

On the other side of the issue, resident Laurie Terry said, “Don’t take out the teachers, take out the sports.” She said if there are first-grade classrooms with 28 children and no teachers’ aids, that would lead to the students not being able to read. “We want to have fully-rounded children who can read.” She concluded, “Don’t put sports above programs and extra-curricular activities.”

The residents of this small hamlet provided some ideas about how to whittle down the deficit, including kicking the furnace on two hours later than its usual start time of 3 a.m., having advanced placement students who take advantage of college courses offered at Sullivan County Community College pay their own way, and saving on the electric bill by turning lights off earlier.

Those who spoke were in largely in agreement that the $300,000 savings from putting sports on the chopping block was a better alternative than cutting programs and laying off teachers.

Reiser said that the budget is liquid and always “evolving,” and superintendent Robert DuFour reiterated those sentiments. The school board has until the third week in April to have their budget ready.

At a school board meeting on February 14, proposed cuts of four teaching assistants, 1.5 elementary school teachers, 1.5 junior-senior high school teachers and .2 psychologists sparked a barrage of tears from faculty, teachers and residents.