ASHLAND — Superintendent Juli Di Chiro on Monday proposed cutting the equivalent of nearly seven full-time teaching positions, some high school sports and two grades of John Muir School to help close the district's expected $1.5 million budget gap for next academic year.

Superintendent Juli Di Chiro on Monday proposed cutting the equivalent of nearly seven full-time teaching positions, some high school sports and two grades of John Muir School to help close the district's expected $1.5 million budget gap for next academic year.

More than 75 parents and students packed the Ashland School Board meeting, many of them begging the board not to enact such deep cuts.

"I hear about taking away from kids and taking away from teachers, but I didn't hear anything about taking away administrative staff," said Allan Sandler, a longtime Ashland resident.

Di Chiro suggested cutting the equivalent of 6.85 full-time teaching positions, or nearly two cultural arts positions at Ashland Middle School, one social studies position at Ashland High School, one position at Bellview Elementary School, one position at Walker Elementary School, one elementary physical education position, a half-time position at John Muir School and a half-time elementary music position.

Cutting the half-time position at John Muir would result in the elimination of the seventh and eighth grades at the school, leaving only kindergarten through sixth grades.

The teacher cuts would save the district $606,000, Di Chiro said.

Di Chiro also proposed cutting $218,000 of discretionary spending on supplies in classrooms, as well as custodial, maintenance and administrative departments.

The discretionary cuts also include hacking the high school athletics budget by $33,000. This, along with an additional $16,000 sports staffing reduction, would eliminate the school's golf program, a swimming coach, a cheerleading coach and funding for all club sports. Student athletes would also be required to pay for their own lodging when they attend overnight tournaments.

More than 20 John Muir parents attended the meeting to speak out against the proposed cuts to that school.

"Not only is it a reduction, but it's a complete reorganization of the John Muir program," said Katherine Holden, who said she represented 45 concerned families. "It's inequitable compared to the rest of the cuts that are happening."

The teaching cuts are equivalent to the number of teachers retiring or resigning from the district next academic year. However, it appears some of those positions will need to be filled and other teachers laid off, in order to make the eliminations Di Chiro has proposed. Di Chiro did not discuss specifics Monday of her proposal to eliminate teaching positions.

Even if the board agrees to the cuts Di Chiro proposed Monday, the district will still be $145,000 short of closing the expected budget gap, she said.

"We still need to identify more reductions," she said.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-708-1158 or email hguzik@dailytidings.com.