Despite the grim economic climate of late, the Southborough schools have so far escaped any teacher layoffs. Next year we may not be so lucky.
In a presentation to selectmen at their all-day budget summit on Saturday, Superintendent Charles Gobron previewed a school budget that would eliminate nine or ten teaching positions in fiscal year 2011. Even with those staffing cuts, the budget is 3.6% more than the current year’s budget.
Gobron told selectmen the cuts are necessary because of an “enormous reduction” in state aid for special education services, to the tune of $420K.
School Committee Vice-Chair Marybeth Strickland explained the special education services are mandated by the state, so there’s no way for the school to cut back on the services they provide. “The state is cutting something we can’t cut,” she said. “It’s mind-boggling.”
Gobron said the teaching positions would be eliminated across the four Southborough schools, and would have the result of increasing class sizes. “I’m not saying we’ll have classes of 35 students. I’m not trying to be alarmist, but it will make things more difficult,” he said.
In addition to teacher layoffs, the budget proposed cutting the equivalent of two custodial positions. It would also reduce spending on textbooks by 37% and other instructional material by 22%.
All told, it will cost nearly $1.3M more to run the Southborough schools next year as compared to this year. A big chunk of that is the increased cost of special education services thanks to the state cuts. The other significant piece is contractual raises for teachers totaling $552K.
The school committee hasn’t reviewed the preliminary budget yet. They’ll do that at their meeting on Wednesday night.