3 teaching, 2 guidance positions cut in Nashua
NASHUA — The Board of Education cut three high school teachers and two guidance counselors as they struggled to reduce the 2015 budget to a level that will be accepted at City Hall.
Board members have been working with a proposal that calls for a 3.7 percent increase over last year’s $97 million budget. Mayor Donnalee Lozeau asked the board to limit this year’s spending increase to 2.1 percent, or roughly $2 million.
Superintendent Mark Conrad originally recommended cutting six high school teachers, but board members voted against that reduction. Although three high school teachers will retire this year, Conrad told board members there is no way to guarantee that retirements will line up with the positions that will be most logical to cut based on student enrollment.
“It’s likely that some people will lose their positions as a result of this,” said Conrad.
The board also approved cutting two guidance counselors, which will bring the district down to minimum state requirements for the guidance staff.
Most of the cuts proposed by the board at their meeting Wednesday night involved cutting different staff members and teachers, and most failed.
Next year’s budget includes money to hire two elementary school teachers to ease classroom crowding. Board member Robert Hallowell proposed scrapping those two new hires since the district has added nine elementary school teachers over the past couple of years.
“A charter school is starting up, and that will take the pressure off,” added Hallowell.
And Conrad said he expected to see elementary school enrollment drop by about 75 students.
Still, early education has been the focus of much of the discussion on how to improve education in Nashua, and the majority of board members see small classes as a key element of that effort.
“I can’t support cutting any elementary school teachers,” said BOE member Sandra Ziehm. “We added nine, but we really needed nine.”
Board members also rejected motions to cut the district’s grant writer and director of public relations, to reduce the budget for classrooms supplies by $50,000 and a proposal to save $35,000 by keeping a data analyst as a part time staff member rather than expanding the job to full time.
The board also rejected a proposal to reduce the athletic budget by roughly $43,000 with staff deciding how best to make the cuts. Board members have also rejected the idea of raising athletic fees for students.
The board wrapped up the night with a budget proposal of $100,798,192, or a 3.4 percent increase over last year.