SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP - - Rumors of who and what will be cut from the budget next school year are swirling around the Ashtabula Area City School District.

Superintendent Joseph Donatone is working on an expenditure plan for the district and will present it to the board of education in April. Notification had been sent earlier this month to the Ashtabula Area Teachers Association and the Ashtabula Association of Classified School Employees, that positions are being considered for elimination next year. However, no individual district employee has received a letter.

It hasn't been decided which positions will be cut until the board acts upon the plan, Donatone said.

"A reduction in force (RIF) is not being fired and is not based on an individual's performance," Donatone said. "It is a layoff and has to do with whether we can afford to have a particular position or not."

The district will try to minimize the number of layoffs by assigning staff to vacant positions they are qualified to fill, Donatone said. Those positions will come from retirements and attrition.

The reason for the reduction in staff, a category making up 85 percent of the district's budget, is that the district will be overspending by about $1.5 million next year, Donatone said. There will be no carry-over at the end of this fiscal year to help fund next year's spending.

"We can't deficit-spend anymore," he said. "We have to bring the expenditures in line with the revenue."

Concerns with class offerings also have been discussed. All class offerings at the high school level offered in the past have been offered for the 2007-08 school year, Donatone said.

What will happen is certain classes with low student interest will be cut for the school year. However, those classes will be offered the following year, and if there is sufficient interest, the class will be offered, Donatone said. Advanced placement math and science classes with low enrollment still will be offered. However, some electives with low-student interest may be cut or fewer class sections (or periods) will be scheduled, he said.

Students already have begun enrolling for next year's classes, Donatone said.

- - LISA DAVIS - Staff Writer

Star Beacon Print Edition: 3/19/2007

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