In a surprise move, the BOE announced that there would be no non-renewal notices issued in the immediate future, and that they and Dr. Solek are committed to closing the budget gap through other means.

More details will be posted tomorrow, but tonight teachers can rest a little easier with this good news!

Updates:

  1. Below is the Bristol Press article on layoffs being averted..
  2. Calvin Brown writes a letter supporting full funding of the education budget.
  3. City Councilor Anthony D’Amato makes suggestions to save money for education funding

BRISTOL — There will be no teacher layoffs in 2016-17.

Board of Education Chairman Chris Wilson made the announcement at a special meeting Thursday night, which drew applause from many in the audience at the central office on Church Street.

Wilson said he knew there were many teachers in the audience who were expecting non-renewal notices to be going out to those who were non-tenured. Instead, he said Superintendent Ellen Solek believes she can find a way to bridge our funding gap without issuing those notices.

The school and finance boards have negotiated what had been a $3 million funding gap between what school officials requested and what the finance people were willing to give down to about a $1 million gap for next year’s approximately $107 million school budget.

By state law, the non-renewal notices would have had to go out by Monday, May 1.

Wilson said the school budget process has been in flux, largely because the state has been procrastinating in its own budget process.

The state budget affects many grants that fund positions in the district, if those are eliminated it would have a significant impact on Bristol’s budget, but there is no way of knowing what will happen at the state level for at least a few more days, he said.

Wilson acknowledged that everyone is excited that there will be no layoffs, “but we still have a significant funding gap that we need to address.”

Solek went over some highlights of how she plans to do that. The board is already going forward with a special education audit to be conducted by the Capital Region Education Council (CREC) to evaluate all the district’s special education programs to find ways to increase efficiencies.

The board’s Student Achievement Committee will be meeting in May with personnel from New Jersey-based consulting firm Effective School Solutions, to look at the possible reintroduction back into the district of special education students who are currently placed in more costly out of district programs, she said.

In addition, Solek said some staff positions will be eliminated through attrition. Those retiring and resigning will not be replaced, except those special education positions which the state mandates must be replaced, she said.

She noted that savings will also be found through reductions in plant operations, supplies, and equipment and she plans to sit down with the employee unions to discuss possible givebacks.

The board had previously proposed closing one unnamed school, and possibly two, for next year when the funding gap was still around $3 million. Earlier in the week, Wilson told the Board of Finance school closings were off the table, but staff layoffs would still be necessary.

The final school budget will be approved by a vote of the combined finance board and City Council on Monday, May 16.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-584-0501 ext. 1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.

 

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