The impassioned pleas of some 20 band parents were heard last week as New Milford's Board of Education made required cuts to the town's 2013-14 budget.

Word reached parents with children in the high school band that a $10,000 reduction had been recommended by principal Greg Shugrue to the band budget.

The cut would have limited funding for transportation for band and ensemble members to play in venues outside of town.

"The money would have been cut from transportation," said Cynthia Nabozny, whose son, Justin, plays mellophone in the marching band. "Those buses not only get marching band members to sites, they provide transportation for ensemble kids going to auditions and festivals.

"These kids are wonderful ambassadors for our community," Nabozny added. "Not only that, they learn so much from these events. We fundraise, but could never make up $10,000."

Principals in all six of the district's schools had been asked to recommend cuts in their programs. A total of $148,971 in cuts were found, primarily in instructional supplies.

High school band transportation money had not been included in the cuts.

Overall, the Board of Education had to find $580,000 in reductions. That amount was cut from the original budget proposal, bringing the education budget to $59.63 million -- a figure that passed by a narrow margin during the May town referendum.

Other cuts made by the board included $109,036 from medical, which was possible due to new allocation rates; $88,600 by the reduction of three full-time, non-salaried positions; and $20,000 and $18,173 from natural gas and oil, respectively, made possible due to purchase price reductions.

-- Susan Tuz