To weather financial difficulties, the Weymouth Township School District plans to eliminate field trips, summer school and after-school activities and hold off on buying new textbooks and technology supplies under its proposed budget for next year.

Superintendent Donna Van Horn said the Board of Education initially presented a $4.6 million 2010-11 budget last week that would have increased the tax rate by 47 cents. After talking to county education officials Thursday, the total budget was reduced to $4.5 million, and the tax rate would instead increase by 34 cents to $2.13 per $100 of assessed value, Business Supervisor Maggie Betz said.

The school board will discuss the revised budget tonight during a public hearing, Van Horn said.

While spending in the proposed budget would go up $73,000, or 1.8 percent, Van Horn and Betz said taxes would go up even more to compensate for cuts in government funding and to pay higher expenses. The Weymouth school district will get $220,838 less - an 8.6 percent decrease - in state aid this coming year, and it will lose $74,698 in one-time federal funding, Betz said.

To reduce the proposed tax rate, Van Horn said the school district decided to cancel all field trips, summer school and after-school activities that receive federal funding. The district also will eliminate a part-time basic skills improvement job, reduce the three-day music teacher to two days and end the instrumental music program and the after-school activity bus for high school students. Funds set aside for one special education student's out-of-district program will be reallocated to the budget, Van Horn said, and the rural education achievement program funds that would normally be used for textbooks and technology equipment would be used for other school supplies.

"In light of the loss of state aid, we're trying to look at things with the least impact on the student population," Van Horn said, who added that "there's only so much blood left" in terms of making cuts.

Van Horn said a penny on the tax rate can generate about $9,702, and covering the government funding cuts alone would require a 30.4-cent increase on the tax rate.

On top of that, the Weymouth school district will have to pay about $65,698 more for teacher salaries, $69,206 more for staff health benefits and $34,635 more for the tuition to send high school students to the Buena Regional School District, Van Horn and Betz said.

"I realize it's hard times for everyone. But the children of the community are the future of the community, and we're already truly operating in the most efficient way possible," Van Horn said. She added that there has been no formal discussion about sharing services or merging with other school districts.

The public hearing on the proposed 2010-11 budget will be held at 7 p.m. today at Weymouth Township Elementary School, 1202 11th Ave. For more information, call the school at 609-476-2412.

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