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May 06. 2014 9:55PM

Nashua: 16 pink slips in city schools

NASHUA — The school district has sent layoff notices to 16 teachers and staff members as school officials brace for the need to cut deeper into next year’s proposed $100,798,000 budget.

Superintendent Mark Conrad reviewed a list of staff reductions with the Board of Education’s Human Resources Committee. It included cuts the board approved during its budget hearings, and additional cuts the administration made in case aldermen refuse to approve their budget — which represents a 3.4 percent increase over last year. Last February, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau set the bottom line at a 2.1 percent increase as part of the city’s overall spending cap.

The mayor is scheduled to meet with the BOE budget Committee tonight at 6:30 at Nashua High North.

Although the layoff notices, which must be sent by May 17, have already gone out, Conrad and BOE members are hoping there will be some flexibility with the final budget numbers which would allow people to be rehired.

“If it’s not necessary ... then we can bring folks back,” Conrad said.

The superintendent said that teaching staff was cut because of declining enrollment and shifting student interests reflected by this year’s course choices.

The cuts include teachers in art, Spanish, engineering and the Career and Technology HVAC program.

“We’ve seen declining enrollment below the threshold of what you need for a class,” said Conrad.

BOE members Sandra Ziehm and Dotty Oden were concerned that the district was cutting programs geared toward significant numbers of students who may not plan to go on to college.

“These are the things we should be focusing on for a lot of our kids,” said Oden. “These are the things for kids that need some training when they get out.”

The district is adding staff to its biotech, graphics design and Air Force Jr. ROTC programs to keep up with student interest.

Visual Arts Coordinator Robin Perringer spoke briefly at the start of the meeting to express her concern over losing an art teacher at Nashua High South.

“We want the public to understand that if we continue to fund education this way, we’re going to continue losing programs,” she said.

Senior Amanda Slater, who will head to the Art Institute of Chicago in September, also said she worries about future art students in Nashua.

“I think the whole board was just broken-hearted with this budget, and unfortunately, it promises to get worse,” said Ziehm.

Conrad said that concerns about the budget should be brought to the Board of Aldermen.

“The final power does not rest with the Board of Education; it rests with them,” he said.





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