The Region 12 Board of Education delivered what it says is a lean budget Monday, March 31 for the 2014-15 school year.

The budget proposal of $21,618,021 would represent a 0.002 percent decrease from the current fiscal year.

The amount of $160,000 for heating conversion at Washington Primary School was removed from capital facilities in the operating budget.

That cost was instead made an expenditure from the Elementary Schools Lease Fund.

Central to Monday's budget deliberations was the the position of one kindergarten teacher who could be cut from Burnham School in Bridgewater.

Superintendent of Schools Pat Cosentino cut the position in her budget proposal since only four students are anticipated in Burnham's kindergarten class next year.

Cosentino plans to combine kindergarten and first grade at the school.

There are seven students anticipated in the first grade class.

"I realize the elimination of the kindergarten teacher is difficult to accept, but I don't think it is a responsible decision financially to have a class with just four students," Cosentino said.

"Parents who want their child in a solely kindergarten class will have the option of having their child attend Booth Free School," she added. "Transportation would be the parents' responsibility."

Board members from Bridgewater argued to put the position back in the operating budget for 2014-15. Alan Brown said the position could later be cut if kindergarten enrollment remained low in the fall.

However, Washington board member Valerie Andersen pointed out parents need to plan ahead and it would be unfair to hand a pink slip to a teacher in September.

In the end, the position remained cut from the budget by a vote of 7 to 4, with 1 abstention.

The district budget hearing is set Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Shepaug Valley Middle/High School library.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322