November 24, 2010

School Board outlines plan for teacher cuts

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- While grant funding is set to save some Derry teaching jobs next year, an updated budget plan has outlined from which grades a remaining 46 teaching positions could be pulled.
In a plan presented to the Derry School Board on Tuesday night, Superintendent Mary Ellen Hannon said that position cuts, while difficult, have brought the budget into line with a school board directive to cut $4.5 million over the cur
rent budget. 
“This is definitely the place that we need to be reaching,” Hannon said. 
Currently, students at West Running Brook Middle School are organized into two teaching teams per grade of the four core subjects — math, science, social studies and language arts — and a fifth “interventionist” teacher specializing in various subjects. 
Under the proposal, West Running Brook would move to four-teacher teams, with the reduction of three literacy interventionist positions and four unified arts positions. 
But those three literacy positions would be transferred to Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, which would move from a current organization of three four-subject teams per grade level to a setup with two five-subject teams, Hannon said. 
As it stands, Hood would see a reduction of nine core subject teachers, three special education staff members and a unified arts teacher, according to Tuesday’s presentation. 
At the elementary school level, Hannon said she removed classrooms from her proposal based on the enrollment of each grade level for the individual schools. 
Classroom cuts from grades one through four under proposal are as follows: four classrooms at Grinnell Elementary School, two at Derry Village School, two at Ernest P. Barka Elementary School and one at South Range Elementary School. 
The proposal would not remove any regular education classrooms from East Derry Memorial Elementary School, but would cut one special education classroom. Another five special education classrooms would be removed across the elementary education level. 
But Hannon has also proposed the addition of a feebased, full-day kindergarten program, which she said could add around $350,000 in additional revenue. Other changes at the elementary level would include sharing PACE program teachers between elementary schools, combining PACE math classes for grades four and five and moving the DEEP program from Hood to Grinnell to consolidate services. Hannon also proposed a number of districtwide cutbacks, including the elimination of numerous contracted services to be picked up by district staff and the reduction of a special education admin-istrative position at the high school.
But among the widespread cuts proposed this fall, Hannon said a bit of good news has come in the form of a federal one-year education jobs grant administered through the state. 
Derry is set to receive about $725,000 to supplement school building-level positions, which Hannon said will add 14 positions back into the district. 
But that still leave 60 professional staff positions set to be cut next year under the current proposal, including 46 teachers, as Derry continues to brace for the anticipated loss of $7.1 million in state adequacy funding. 
The school board has not made any final budget decisions and will continue to meet with its fiscal advisory committee in the coming weeks. 

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