At a budget hearing last night, the School Committee heard Superintendent Joseph Sawyer's presentation to close the $3 million gap in the proposed school budget.
Due to state and federal funding reductions, Sawyer proposed 38.35 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions throughout the district.
"Some class sizes in the upper grades will be affected with students in grades 4 to 8 totaling an average of 29 students," Sawyer said. "At Floral Street in grades 1 and 2 and Spring Street grade 1 class sizes will be an average of 23 students."
The personnel reductions at the preschool and elementary levels total $810,594 and include:
- The hiatus of 1 FTE principal position at due to the retirement of Alice Brennan, current principal at Beal and the position will be shared by Jayne Wilkin at . Wilkin is the current principal, but she will be retiring at the end of next year when the two positions will hopefully be filled, Sawyer said.
- 1.55 FTE of instruction coach positions offset by eligible grants and tuition accounts at Beal and elementary schools.
- 3 FTE grade 1 teachers at Beal School.
- 1 FTE grade 2 teacher at .
- 1 FTE grade 4 teacher at Coolidge School.
- 1 FTE grade 4 teacher at Paton School.
- 1 FTE grade 1 teacher at .
- 1 FTE grade 4 teacher at Spring Street School.
- 4 paraprofessionals at the elementary and early childhood schools.
At the middle school the following reductions would equate to $659,160:
- 2 FTE curriculum coordinators.
- .2 FTE foreign language director (November retirement).
- 1 FTE technology teacher at .
- 2 FTE grade 6 teachers at Sherwood Middle School.
- 2 FTE grade 7 team teachers at .
- 2 FTE grade 7 team teachers at Oak Middle School.
- 1 FTE special education teacher at Oak Middle School.
- 4 FTE paraprofessionals.
At the high school, the following staff reductions total $591,858:
- .6 FTE foreign language director (retirement in November).
- .4 FTE foreign language teacher.
- 1 FTE English teacher.
- 1 FTE mathematics teacher.
- .6 science teacher.
- 1 FTE social science teacher.
- 1 FTE visual arts teacher
- 4 paraprofessionals
The silver lining in the budget cuts is that incoming kindergartners will now be offered full-day kindergarten and full-time classes will be offered at Spring Street School and Coolidge as well as Beal.
"This will off-set some of the staff reductions and parents were excited when we announced this at a forum last night," Sawyer said. "This is definitely one way we are making lemonade out of lemons."
School Committee members agreed that they are concerned with the upcoming year's budget.
"This is very sobering," said School Committee member Steve Levine. "I’m still recovering from it." He asked about reductions in the transportation budget, which Sawyer said they would look into, but Sawyer believed that the contract would have to go out to bid in 2014.
"I’ve heard that Shrewsbury is considered a lean and mean district—we've done very well with amount of money we spend on education," said Erin Canzano, School Committee member. "I’m a little bit worried—we’re taking a hard blow and my head’s spinning. I think we’re standing and we’re still fighting. But we're moving in a more grim direction with four teachers, but 27 other positions—making a huge impact of the lives of children. Educators are going to have to work harder, but students will feel the impact. I want us to be standing on our feet at the end of this."
A public hearing on the proposed cuts to the school budget is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at , 45 Oak St. in the auditorium.