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Blaine Starts School Year with Hope Despite Another Rejected Budget

By Serena Dai | August 26, 2013 7:56pm
 Blaine students gather in the yard after the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013.
Blaine students gather in the yard after the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

LAKEVIEW — Blaine Elementary students started school Monday even though its Local School Council voted to reject the school's budget as insufficient yet again late last week.

The school worked with what LSC members consider to be a $730,000 shortfall, with hopes that the mayor will release TIF funds and that parent fundraising will fund some programming.

"I felt my ulcer coming all summer," said Gwyn Aubrey, mother to two Blaine students.

"We're waiting and hoping the mayor and other decision-makers open their eyes," added Dr. Maureen Stress, another parent. "I don't think any Blaine parents will give up the fight."

The school fee went up to $200 per student from less than $130 to help fund "instructional interventionists" — people who will assist three teachers with about 33 students in their classes, up from 24 or 25 last year.

Parents will have the option of paying the fee, volunteering time or paying their kid's fee and someone else's fee, said Principal Troy LaRaviere, who abstained from the last budget rejection vote.

The LSC will not be voting on the budget again unless one of the members changes his or her mind about accepting it. 

For the most part, LaRaviere is able to tell parents exactly what will be funded this year, he said. Blaine funded teacher prep time and an art teacher by increasing some class sizes. Positions like the instructional interventionists are not funded by the current budget, but because the school is "reasonably certain" it will be able to raise money, LaRaviere was able to hire them. 

"We have to do what we can," he said.

But for at least one secretary, only "creative fundraising" could keep her at the school, he said. Right now, she's only helping out in the first weeks of school on an hourly basis, LaRaviere said. 

Blaine parent Wendy Martell isn't nervous about the school surviving this year — the Blaine community is strong, she said — but cuts do leave her wondering who might go next. She found out the secretary was leaving when she brought in paperwork on Monday.

"She's somebody we talk to," Martell said. "She's the smiling person you see every day."