SOUTH BEND — Disagreement took center stage as South Bend School board members burned the midnight oil to try and put the corporation's budget back in the black. But, after weeks of debate including a four hour meeting Wednesday, little progress toward that goal was made. Last week, the board looked at nearly $700,000 in cuts to central office administration, approving about $480,000 of them. Superintendent James Kapsa asked the board to pull off two of the seven items from the agenda at that time, saying several board members had questions about them and the board wasn't ready to vote on them. Board member Bill Sniadecki called the move "illegal" and said informal votes were taken before the meeting by phone to pull the job cuts to two key positions from the agenda-- executive director of student services, now held by Rosalind Ellis, and assistant director of facilities management, now held by Frank Macri. The cuts would have saved a total of $220,695 in salary and benefits. Sniadecki filed a formal complaint with Indiana's Public Access Counselor alleging Board President Marcia Hummel and several other board members had violated the state's Open Door Law. On Wednesday, Sniadecki and board member Roger Parent asked for the cuts to be revisited, and the board voted to oblige. One by one, the board re-voted on each of the positions cut last week. Those votes, almost all unanimous, eliminate the following positions: -Director of high school programs -Human resources director for food services -Early childhood and kindergarten curriculum facilitator -Special education coordinator The board also affirmed, as it did last week, the voluntary pay cut of $11,625 by a director of data management, and a change in salary source for several facilitators to federal Title I and Title II funding. The board then considered the two positions removed from last week's agenda. Votes to cut the assistant director for facilities management position and executive director of student services position both failed by a vote of 3-4. Accusations then began flying. "Any cut you make is going to affect the corporation," Sniadecki told the board. "I don't like this either, but this will cover us from having to cut from the kids." Asked following the meeting why the vote failed, Sniadecki said it's because some board members voted for those holding the positions, not the positions themselves. "Personal friendships are at play here," he said. "There's personal friendships with the Board President and others. I have no doubt that's taking place." "It's good to lay the cards out on the table," Parent agreed. "Let's call it what it is." Because of union seniority rules, none of those whose positions were eliminated will likely lose their jobs, Hummel said. Instead, they will likely "bump down" another employee, such as a teacher, from a lower paid position. Those on the lowest end of that bump down will then likely be laid off. Hummel disagreed with Sniadecki's assessment of her votes. "That has no bearing on my vote. I voted for positions, because the position itself is important," she said. Several parents and community leaders at the meeting certainly thought so. Early in the meeting, Elder Dale Monroe praised Ellis as being "effective in transforming children" and said he was backing his support with a petition with 400 signatures from the community and churches. "My fear is, if we cut this department (student services) that it will be a thing of the past. This department is crucial. It's crucial. Mr. Sniadecki does not see color. This department is servicing 90 percent of those in poverty and of color. And, I consider [Ellis] a colleague, not a friend," said board member Stephanie Spivey in a lengthy speech to the board. That brought an outburst from Sniadecki, and a series of gavel bangs from Hummel as the two argued. "That's ridiculous," said Sniadecki. "Thank you for keeping it real," Spivey replied. It was enough to cause several parents to speak out at the end of the meeting. "I'm embarrassed. I'm appalled. You can't even talk to each other properly," said Washington High School parent Leslie Wesley. "Do your jobs, make the cuts, and stop arguing," agreed parent Dustin Saunders. "Our school corporation can do better than this." Following the meeting, both Sniadecki, Spivey and Hummel agreed. "I'm totally frustrated," Hummel said. "We have couple of people who think they're right, and they just won't listen to the others. And, there are things that are said to the public that just aren't true." Asked if the board needs to change its ways, Sniadecki thought for a moment. "I've been on the board almost 6 years now. And, you're emotions get so high and you believe in certain things. Me, when I see certain things like personal friendships get involved, I get irritated. I may look like a bad guy sometimes, but my true reason is for the school corporation," said Sniadecki. "It's OK to disagree," said Spivey. "But, we need to make sure it's not personal. It should be strictly business." Only time will tell if the board will heed that mantra as it considers further controversial cuts: closings and reorganization of several schools. The board discussed the potential cuts for nearly two hours, but final votes were pulled from the agenda due to several lingering questions, Kapsa said. Among the list of considerations that could emerge again at the board's April 26th meeting: -Lafayette Traditional School would be merged with Coquillard Primary Center, and Coquillard would be converted to the traditional school format. The whole Lafayette building would be leased to the Head Start preschool program, which already leases part of it. -Bendix School would move this fall into the Eggleston School building, which is now used for various programs. This would give Bendix the extra classroom space it needs as an alternative high school, and it would help the school's plan to come off of the state's academic probation, Kapsa said. -The Early College program would be moved from Riley High School into the Studebaker School building. -Creating a New Tech school inside Riley. If New Tech were to open in Riley, it wouldn't be earlier than August 2011, Kapsa said. -Proposed closure of Greene Intermediate Center is on hold, Kapsa said, for more research. Because the additional staff cuts were voted down, the board still must eliminate about $300,000 of the total $8.2 million reduction. No further plans for reductions have been proposed at this time, Kapsa said, pending the board's decisions on building closures. South Bend Tribune Staff Writer Joseph Dits contributed to this report.