School Budget Saves Most Teacher Jobs
By Paul Tuthill
Springfield, MA – The Massachusetts House has approved a 30 point 4 billion dollar state budget that increases funding for local school districts, but reduces direct aid to the state's cities and towns for a fourth straight year..In the city of Springfield, officials say there will be no classroom cutbacks, but the budget news is grim on the municipal side of the ledger. WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has an update
Springfield's Superintendent of Schools Alan Ingram says he expects to recommend a 312 million dollar budget to the school committee that will include a reduction of 85 teaching jobs for the next school year. But, because of schedule adjustments and changes in enrollments, Ingram says teacher-student ratios will be un-changed
Lay offs may even be avoided. The district, which has about 2 thousand teachers, averages 60 retirements per year. Also, teachers who have failed to meet certification requirements won't be recalled.
Ingram said there will be cuts in non-teaching jobs. Springfield school teachers will not be asked for a wage freeze or to take unpaid furloughs, something that is being asked of the city's municipal workforce. Sources tell WAMC News the municipal unions have reacted t coolly to the formal requests for concessions, and with the teacher's union not being asked for give backs, its unlikely the other public employee unions in the city will agree to take pay cuts. Springfield Mayor Domenic has warned there could be up to 120 layoffs without the concessions.
The Springfield schools expect a 13 million dollar increase in state education aid known as chapter 70 funding. Timothy Plante, the chief financial officer for the schools, said healthcare and pension costs are both rising, and roughly 26 million dollars in federal stimulus money is going away
Springfield school committee member Christopher Collins is pleased with the projected budget.
The Springfield school committee will vote on the budget next month, after a public hearing.
State budget debate shifts next month to the state senate. The legislative leadership and Governor Patrick have agreed on how much unrestricted local aid and Chapter 70 money will be included in the final budget.