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School district announces layoffs

WINSTED — In a letter sent on Oct. 25 to school district parents, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Danehy announced planned layoffs of faculty and cuts to school programs.In his letter, Danehy squarely placed the blame for the layoffs and cutbacks on the town for refusing to fund the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) set by the state for $19,958,149.Earlier in the year, town residents approved a school district budget for fiscal 2011-12 of $18.6 million, a $1,358,149 shortfall.“As the district has been underfunded for years, there are no other escape hatches to avoid cuts to classrooms,” Danehy wrote in his letter. “The list of cuts is laden with staff, teachers and paraprofessionals mostly, and cuts into the heart and soul of what ought to be happening in a school district.”According to Danehy, eight classroom teachers will be laid off, along with two music teachers, two social workers, 1.6 art teachers and 12 paraprofessionals.“The cuts include reductions to the pre-kindergarten program and a reduction in the kindergarten program to a half day program from a full day program,” Danehy wrote. “There will be complete reductions in music and art education and reductions in social worker staffing.”Danehy admitted that the cuts are drastic.“To students, the cuts mean no special periods in art and music, class sizes of 32 to 34 students, cramped classroom spaces and numerous mid-year classroom teacher changes,” Danehy wrote in his letter.When asked which schools would be laying off their teachers, Danehy could not answer.“The answers are complicated,” Danehy said. “In the teachers’ contract, there is language about bumping rights which are based on certifications held. So when the cuts are made, there would be a list of teachers who would bump other teachers out of their jobs. Those who are bumped could then bump other teachers, so there’s a domino effect.”Board Chairman Susan Hoffnagle previously announced that the Board of Education will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, a day after the town’s municipal elections.As of press time, the meeting has not been scheduled.

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