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 May 14, 2005
Four New Bedford schools to stay open
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Four New Bedford elementary schools will now be able to stay open for students. This is because of a last minute proposal that took the schools off the chopping block.

The schools in question are the smallest and oldest elementary schools in New Bedford, but they will remain open through next year.

Parents and teachers at Gomes Elementary School were relieved to hear that New Bedford mayor Fred Kalis will vote against any budget proposal that will close Rodman, Phillips Ave., Dunbar, and Kempton elementary schools.

Kathy Smith, Wants Schools to Stay Open:

"It's something we've been hoping for some time. We've been fighting it tooth and nail. And we hadn't given up. We were going to take it to the end and we're glad he's decided to put the kids first. I've been listening to the concerns, listening to what's been said."

The mayor now says he will set aside $1.5 million dollars from the city budget. That money would allow for the four schools to stay open through next year. The mayor is banking on state funding that would go to building new schools.

Mayor Fred Kalis:

"Why should we disrupt the young lives by doing multiple changes? We're anticipating the construction of schools in the next several years. These are very painful times.�

School superintendent Michael Longo had made the initial proposal to close the school in an effort to close a $7.2 million dollar budget gap for next year. He says he's not sure if the Mayor's proposal will solve the city's school funding program but he says it's a step in the right direction.

Superintendent Michael Longo: "People talk about education being the most important thing. But we see it unfunded from the federal level to the state level, and sometimes at the local level. Well, he stepped up and he supporting it, and I�m not going to look at a gift horse in the mouth."

New Bedford still must make cuts in other city departments. They need to make $5 million dollars in cuts for next year. These will most likely come in large teacher layoffs this summer.

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