New Haven may lay off more than 100 teachers


While the cuts haven't been confirmed by state lawmakers yet, the last several years have seen major statewide cuts to education which have forced the district to make $15 million in cuts over the last four years, district officials said.

The board authorized the layoff notices during a Tuesday night meeting, but offered some suggestions for mitigating the cuts, including a measure that will go before voters on June 5 imposing a $180 parcel tax for the next four years.

The tax would raise approximately $3 million, district officials said, and would prevent teacher layoffs. The funds could not be used for administrators' salaries and there would be exemptions for senior citizens and the disabled.

At stake is 77 or more full-time teachers, mainly at the elementary and middle school level, 42 temporary and probationary teachers, and more than 30 other district employees.

But while their final fate may not be known until the summer when state lawmakers settle on a budget, district rules dictate that layoff notices must be issued by mid-March in preparation for a June 30 budget deadline.

"You have to let the teachers know by March 15, and you have to have a budget by June 30, but very rarely do (state lawmakers) let you know by June 30 how much money you're going to have," district spokesman Rick LaPlante said.

LaPlante said district officials are hoping that the district's cuts are less than $10.7 million, but they fear it may be more.

"It's our children and that doesn't seem to be something that anybody up there understands. It seems to be an easy place for them to hit," LaPlante said.

He said that over the last four years, the budget for the district of 13,000 students has gone from $114 million to a projected budget of about $90 million for this year.

In addition to the teacher layoffs, prep classes such as music and science may be in jeopardy in elementary schools, and middle school electives like art and music may be cut.

Students, teachers, district employees and other community members are planning a late March rally to push for voters to pass the proposed parcel tax in June. They are holding a planning meeting at 6 p.m. on March 15 in the New Haven Teachers Association office to prepare for the March 31 rally and march from Logan High School to the Union Landing Shopping Center at 9 a.m.

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