The Hartford Board of Education will cut 21 central office positions by the end of the month in an attempt to close a $4.8 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year.
Paula Altieri, the district's chief financial officer, presented that and several other "budget mitigation" proposals to the school board Tuesday night.
The plans call for a two-day furlough for central office staff, the elimination of late buses, which bring students home after 5 p.m., and the freezing of all nonessential spending as of Tuesday.
"This, I felt, is the most non-disruptive to our schools," Altieri told the board.
The board's finance committee will review the proposals at its meeting Monday, however the final decision on the proposal will be made by school system administrators.
There will be layoffs among central office staff and bus monitors, but Altieri and district spokeswoman Nancy Benben didn't say how many. Benben said more details would be available at the finance committee meeting.
The 21 positions cut from central office include empty positions that will not be filled, Benben said. Several bus monitors also stand to lose their jobs, as the district aims to cut $80,000 from that budget line.
The two-day furlough, which saves the district about $300,000, will be voluntary, Altieri said. But the district office will be closed for two days during spring vacation, and any employee who does not want to give up the pay will have to take a vacation day those days, Benben said.
The principals union also has agreed to take off two days without pay, Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski said.
According to the proposal, the district would save about $4 million by freezing non-salary spending. Benben said the freeze would apply to any nonessential expense, such as money for conferences, equipment and computers, with some exceptions.
Altieri cited four factors in the deficit:
•The district had to hire 30 special education workers to comply with federal rules.
•Nineteen extra teachers being paid in the district without a permanent position.
•The costs of magnet school tuition and busing regular and special education students went up.
•The district offset retiree health premiums with those of active employees, and unemployment compensation costs went up.
Next year's budget is looking worse. Recently the board has projected that as many as 365 positions across the district may be cut, but no decisions on that budget have been made.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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