Superintendent Michael Green proposed the elimination of 18 positions in the school system for the 2011-2012 school year Thursday night. The cuts would include 15 full-time employees and a total of $900,000.
"I’m starting my 19th year as a member of the school committee, and its definitely the worst that I’ve faced," School Committee member said.
Green's announcement was a reaction to a $1.75 million deficit the town of Easton is facing in Fiscal Year 2012. At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting Town Administrator David Colton to the town's operating budget, including the elimination of three firefighter positions, two police positions, one Department of Public Works position, and two clerks in town hall.
Green's cuts include one special education teacher, one social studies teacher at the high school, the reduction of half-time guidance department employee, the elimination of the career education aid program, one special education secretary in the central office, three and a half elementary school teachers, a gifted and talented specialist, a math specialist, a library resource aid, and six paraprofessionals.
Green's budget draft calls for a 1.08 percent increase in expenses from the previous year, totaling $32,363,542. However, he said, because of rising costs in health care and benefits, an approximate four percent increase would allow for all current positions and expenses to remain intact, Green said.
"By increasing this budget by 1.08 percent, yes it is an increase from last year, but it is not an increase to maintain the level of services," School Committee member Colleen Less said.
Green said the retirement of two teachers and a library resource aid accounted for two of the positions he is proposing to cut. The rest, he said, are current employees. He said that prior to cutting staff positions, other budgets were cut, including materials and supplies.
Jane Martin, who was elected as the School Committee chair at Thursday's meeting said the process in determining cuts was "purposeful" and "planned."
"To the extend we could, we kept them as far away from the classrooms as possible," she said. "But, it has affected some classroom teachers."
In Green's original draft, he had intended to add two positions at the high school and a grade six teacher because of a large fifth grade class,currently. The additions were not proposed in the plan laid out Thursday evening.
Green said the budget would be brought before the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen before it is voted on at Town Meeting on May 16.