Shelton school board cuts 22 jobs to close $3.1M budget gap

Photo of Brian Gioiele
The Board of Education held a Zoom meeting Wednesday, June 3, to vote on some $3.1 million in reductions to its 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

The Board of Education held a Zoom meeting Wednesday, June 3, to vote on some $3.1 million in reductions to its 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The Board of Education has eliminated 22 positions — eight through layoffs — in its quest to slash $3.1 million from its 2020-21 proposed budget and the cutting may not be over.

In all, the Board of Education, during its Zoom meeting Wednesday, cut some $2.6 million to meet the $72,765,000 education budget number proposed by Mayor Mark Lauretti. The board needed to find $3,084,204 in reductions from its original plan and still needs to cut $456,973 to meet the mayor’s number.

The board chose to table recommended reductions to athletics and extracurriculars, the athletic director’s positions and six other teaching positions until after the Board of Aldermen formally adopts the mayor’s proposed budget. A vote is set for 11:45 a.m. Friday.

Board members also wanted clarification on a statement by Board of Aldermen President John Anglace Jr., who, in a letter to the Board of Education last week, claimed that educators can expect a $300,887 increase in the state ECS grant, all of which has traditionally gone into the city’s general fund each year.

School board members felt if that extra money was going to the board, as was implied, it could be used to save teachers’ jobs.

The Board of Education had proposed a $75 million budget — an increase of $2.3 million, or 3.19 percent. The request would have maintained present services with money set aside for a new pre-K teacher and curriculum writing.

On Wednesday, the board agreed to $1.2 million in line item cuts, which included taking $450,000 out of the health insurance budget; $130,210 from professional development; some $100,000 in natural gas and propane fuel cost savings; and $70,750 in electrical, fuel and heating oil savings by closing Perry Hill and the elementary schools after 6 p.m. weekdays and not opening it on weekends.

In all, 15 employees are retiring or resigning, and those positions will be eliminated, saving $1,038,555. Among the positions are the school psychologist, an English, a CTE and a math teacher, all at Shelton High; a SIS music teacher; a Booth Hill School teacher; and a Mohegan School PE teacher.

The PE teacher will be replaced by a teacher from SIS, and the music teacher will be replaced by a teacher from Perry Hill School. The new pre-K teacher position, proposed in the initial education budget, will be filled by a teacher from Elizabeth Shelton School, so no new funds would be added to fill that position.

The board did vote to keep the two part-time security guards, at a combined $42,000.

The board voted on six teacher layoffs and elimination of both supervisor positions in the Office of Teaching and Learning, which altogether brings $345,000 in savings.

The board then voted to create a director of curriculum, instruction and data K-12, which would be a job combining the responsibilities of the two now former supervisors. The board authorized Human Resources Director Carole Pannozzo to create a job description and post for applicants immediately.

Among the layoffs are a Shelton High chemistry teacher, an intermediate school art teacher, an intermediate school world languages teacher and a career and technical education teacher, which is shared by the high school and SIS. A reading consultant at SIS will also be laid off.

The SIS layoffs were recommended by Principal Dina Marks, according to board member Amy Romano, as an option over losing an entire teaching team. The eliminations allowed the Board of Education to vote to keep a language arts teacher, a math teacher, a science teacher and a social studies teacher at the intermediate school.