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Hartford School Budget Plan Calls For Over 250 Job Cuts


March 04, 2009

More than 250 jobs in the Hartford school district would be eliminated in 2009-10 under Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's $373.9 million budget proposal.

Adamowski and Chief Financial Officer Paula Altieri presented the proposal, which decreases spending by $6.4 million, or about 1.7 percent, to the board of education at Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School Tuesday night.

The staff reduction would shrink the Hartford schools workforce by about 8 percent, with most of the cuts among teachers and support staff, spokeswoman Nancy Benben said. The specific positions to be cut will be announced March 17, Benben said.

"While this is not good news, it is better news," Adamowski said, referring to original estimates that as many as 365 positions would be eliminated.

Although the job cuts would save the district about $14.8 million, Adamowski's budget proposal includes $8.5 million to create two new accounts: a $6 million reserve fund and a $2.5 million account for minor improvements to school buildings.

The new accounts drew criticism from Councilman Larry Deutsch.

"What's the reserve for if we're laying off teachers today?" Deutsch said. "Usually you create a reserve in good times."

Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, said she was upset about the job cuts, but relieved that the numbers weren't as bad as the district had originally estimated.

"Less is better when you're talking about people's lives," Johnson said.

Still, Johnson was concerned to see money in the budget to continue opening new schools under the district's reform plan, while the district was cutting jobs.

Although specifics weren't discussed at the presentation, Altieri said the Little Owls Learning Center day-care program at Hartford Public High School was included in the proposal, at $170,000, which would increase the number of infants in the program from nine to 18.

The district had originally told the Little Owls staff that the program would not be funded next year.

The budget proposal assumes a $3 million increase in the city's contribution, to about $96.3 million. The city currently contributes about 32.8 percent of the school budget. Under the proposal, the city's portion would be 34 percent. The rest of the district's revenue comes from state and federal grants, which are projected to decrease by more than $9 million.

The board of education will review the proposal and hold a public hearing March 17. The board is scheduled to present its budget to the city council on April 14.

Adamowski said copies of the draft would be available by request through e-mail. The district's main phone number is 860-695-8000.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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