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Schools stung by cuts

Aug. 30, 2007:  Despite the first budget increase in three years, when classes begin Tuesday students will notice larger classes, no school buses, fewer sports teams at the high school.

By FRED HANSON
The Patriot Ledger

RANDOLPH – Larger classes, no school buses, fewer sports teams at the high school, and new schools for many elementary school students.

Those are some of the most notable changes when classes begin Tuesday in the Randolph public schools.

This year’s school budget of $29.67 million represents an increase of $500,000 over last year, the first budget increase in three years.

School officials said the budget is still $3.2 million less than what was needed to maintain last year’s programs because of negotiated pay raises, special education programs and other expenses.

“Every student in Randolph has been hurt in multiple ways” by the program cuts, said Superintendent Richard Silverman.

Added school committee Chairman Larry Azer: “We don’t like making these cuts. We’re making them because the town of Randolph said you had a certain amount of money to spend.”

More than 40 positions – many of them teachers – were eliminated, resulting in class sizes projections in the high 20s to low 30s in the elementary grades. An optional full-day kindergarten program has been added, with the cost covered by tuition from parents and a state grant.

Kindergarten and preschool classes are moving to the elementary schools. School district lines were also changed, placing almost the entire town within two miles of an elementary school, which eliminated all school bus service for students without special needs. The change saved $452,000.

As a result of the redistricting, about half of the elementary students will be going to different schools.

With the athletic budget cut in half, five sports have been eliminated, and there will be no junior varsity or freshman sports. A $100 annual athletic fee was added, and school officials are trying to raise money to restore some programs.

Other changes include new English language arts and math curriculums, and a new alternative program for secondary students based at Randolph High School.

Fred Hanson may be reached at fhanson@ledger.com.