Some Concord public school teachers, tutors and support staff could face layoffs next year, according to Superintendent Laurie Hunter.
Hunter presented the news Nov. 14 to the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committees. During a preliminary report on the fiscal 2019 operating budget, Hunter said it’s possible a total of 10 to 12 teachers, tutors and support staff in kindergarten through 12th-grade could face layoffs next year because of fiscal challenges.
“This is about people and their jobs, which we don’t take lightly,” Hunter said. “Our goal is to provide a sound educational, fiscally responsible learning environment.”
Hunter also presented two cost-saving proposals – an early childhood, special education program for kindergarten and first-graders, and a one-time early retirement plan for some teachers that could go into effect this academic year, and next, if it gets approval from the school committees.
In the Concord Public Schools, which is kindergarten through eighth grade, there is a projected $1.8 million net increase in the operating budget next year. The projected 4.9 percent increase compares to a 2.25 percent recommended increase by the Concord Finance Committee.
Contracted teacher salaries, special education costs, and regular and special education tutors drive the K-8 increase, Hunter said.
At CCHS, which includes ninth through twelfth grade, the projected net increase in next year’s operating budget is $1.4 million, according to Hunter. The 5.22 percent increase compares to a 4.71 recommended increase by the Concord Finance Committee. Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty said the gap is actually .72 percent when factors, such as state aid, are taken into account.
Contracted teacher salaries and special education cost represent a large share of the operating budget increase at the regional level, Hunter said. So does a shift in enrollment at CCHS. Hunter said the proportion of Concord to Carlisle students has shifted nearly two percent in Concord’s favor, compared to last year. The shift means Concord bears more of the school’s operating costs.
Early childhood program
The early childhood, special education program could potentially cut future costs, according to Hunter, because it would lower the number of students that need to attend schools outside the Concord school district.
“Out-of-district costs are significant,” Hunter said. “It would be a smart, sensible starting point to reach (young students), and meet their needs up through (the grades).”
Early retirement proposal
Full- and part-time teachers must have completed at least 15 years in the Concord or Regional School Districts to be eligible for the Early Retirement/Separation Incentive Benefit Plan. If adopted by the school committees, the plan would go into effect this academic year and next.
According to the school department, 68 Concord Public School and 49 Concord-Carlisle Regional School District teachers would be eligible in 2018. The numbers in 2019 are 74 and 55, respectively.
Hunter said the plan could save the district between $10,000 and $20,000 per teacher, compared to lower salaries for new teachers.
The school committees asked the school department to provide more information on the proposed plan, which will be presented to the committees at their Nov. 28 meeting.
Follow Henry Schwan on Twitter @henrycojo.