Tiny budget hike may threaten jobs of 48 Newington teachers

Published on Friday, 5 May 2017 21:12
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON - The jobs of 48 teachers are not guaranteed next year, as school officials struggle with the 0.3 percent increase set by the Town Council for the town’s 2017-18 budget.

At its last meeting the Board of Education voted to notify 48 non-tenured, certified teachers that their contracts may not be renewed. These potential layoffs would offset the difference between School Superintendent Bill Collins’ 2.49 percent minimum recommended increase and the actual 0.3 percent received.

Collins, Chief Finance and Operations Officer Lou Jachimowicz and other school officials are now working on lessening the budget’s negative impact on the schools. When board members meet Wednesday, they expect to learn if layoffs can be prevented through cuts from different areas.

“We are waiting for the recommendations of the administration on what we can do to get down to the number we were cut by,” board Chairwoman Nancy Petronio said this week.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Foresi told the board that the layoffs may still be avoidable.

“We look at all ways to amend our budget and we hope this is our last option,” he said at the meeting.

The council’s Republican majority led a motion to pass the small increase, which they attributed to fiscal prudence during a challenging and uncertain time. They cited a $1.2 million health benefit refund the BOE received as supplementary funding to the school budget. Since board members don’t expect this refund to occur again next year, they argued that using non-lapsing funds for contractual expenses is not a responsible decision.

“We’re still trying to figure out how the health benefits would be prudent to use,” Petronio said.

A month ago, members proposed putting this money toward purchasing the St. Mary’s School building for use as swing space during the renovation of Town Hall, and possible future BOE offices. The council denied their request due to time constraints, but may still consider the building in the future, according to Mayor Roy Zartarian.

The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, Room L-101.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097 or eschmitt@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Newington on Friday, 5 May 2017 21:12. Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 21:14.