ATLANTIC CITY - Councilman Marty Small and several other school district employees made one final plea for their jobs Tuesday night.

School board members unanimously approved a $171.8 million budget in March, which increases costs by $6 million and eliminates 35 positions. Voters also approved the budget April 20.

But some employees are still holding out hope and took the opportunity to appeal to the board one last time.

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Small, the only employee to request a public hearing, presented a financial plan for the board that claimed to save nearly $250,000 and keeps his job as youth activities coordinator.

Small's plan would increase his responsibilities, while lowering his salary "a little," he said. He would not discuss the new amount. He also proposed cutting the program's supplies by more than $27,000 and transportation costs by $50,000.

The councilman also proposed reducing program workers' stipends, but those payments are contractual and would require negotiation.

"I love my job. I love the children of Atlantic City, and I would love to continue the progress that the program has made," Small said, reading from a prepared statement.

Other teachers battling for their jobs chose to do it privately in a room adjacent to the main board room, waiting hours to make their case.

Board members had made no decisions as of press time Tuesday. They are expected to notify the employees of their final decision by the end of the week.

Small previously appeared before the board last month, accompanied by dozens of supporters who pleaded with the board to keep Small and his program. Small did not speak during that meeting. This time, he came with no supporters, just his words.

"If it wasn't for my basketball abilities, I wouldn't be here today," Small said, hoping to emphasize the importance of youth sports. "It's opened a lot of doors for me."

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