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June 28. 2012 12:06AM

Manchester school chief wants to see 80 jobs restored

MANCHESTER — Superintendent of Schools Thomas Brennan will propose bringing back about 80 school staff tonight, including some jobs that could save the German and Latin programs at city high schools.

When the Board of School Committee meets at 7 p.m., in City Hall, it must decide how to spend the $152 million in city funds allocated to it by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, as well as the $2.3 million from the school district’s expendable trusts the school board voted last week to spend for teachers and staff.

Brennan and his administration have recommended restoring 80 positions that were slated for layoffs or were to be left vacant due to resignations and retirements.

These include one assistant principal at each of the city’s middle schools, which the board approved last week. It also includes part-time assistant principals at five elementary schools, 17 elementary school teachers, 10 elementary physical education, art and music teachers, 12 middle school language arts teachers, a guidance counselor at West High School, five middle school music teachers and three word language teachers.

That would leave 116 staff vacancies heading into the new school year, of which 105 are teachers.

These recommendations differ slightly from those Brennan presented the board last week.

Brennan had suggested hiring a carpentry teacher at the Manchester School of Technology and two interpreters/tutors.

The recommendations released Wednesday no longer include the carpentry teacher and cuts the number of interpreters to one.

Although Brennan wanted to place any further restored positions in the elementary and middle schools, board members urged him to spread the funds across all grades.

Committee member John Avard was concerned cutting music programs at the middle-school level would hurt high school music programs.

Committee member Sarah Ambrogi told Brennan cutting Latin and German language programs from the high schools would hurt students who have studied the subjects for two and three years and would not be able to complete the final years of foreign language some colleges require.

Brennan’s new recommendations, released Wednesday, include some of those music and foreign language teachers, though they do not specify if Latin or German teachers would be brought back.

The information released by Brennan and his administration Wednesday also reveals that health care claims continue to rise.

Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis told the board last week the school district has been receiving medical claim charges of about $500,000 a week. Some speculate that is because laid-off staff are getting procedures done before losing their benefits.

Because of the spike, the board was told schools would need about $3.8 million from the health insurance trust to cover the costs. On Wednesday, the district amended these cost projections to nearly $5 million.

After the $2.3 million for staffing is removed from the trusts, there will be less than $1 million in all five of the city’s trust funds to cover emergency costs next year.

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Beth LaMontagne Hall may be reached at bhall@unionleader.com.


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