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Board holds off on contract renewals as possible Timberlane layoffs loom

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

April 05. 2018 11:38PM
Dozens of people, some with signs, filled the meeting room for Thursday night's Timberlane Regional School Board meeting. (Livestream.com)



PLAISTOW — Dozens of students, staff and other community members packed Thursday’s Timberlane Regional School Board meeting to voice concerns about the possibility of more than 50 school positions being put on the chopping block.

The board was expected to vote on renewing contracts for some teachers and administrators, but decided to hold off for now.

Several members said they wanted to review more options to address the budget shortfall and take a closer look at staffing before making any decisions.

“The reality is we have a budget that, in my humble opinion, is rather low. It’s dangerously low, but it’s what we have to work with,” said Susan Sherman, the board’s chairman.

Pink slips are being considered after voters at the polls last month rejected the proposed $72.8 million school budget by a vote of 1,216 in favor to 2,067 against. The defeat means the district must operate under a lower default budget of $71.9 million.

Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler has described the default budget as “significantly underfunded,” which means the district is short $700,000 for special education, $500,000 for transportation and $350,000 for food service.

Metzler has until April 15 to let staffers know if their contracts will be renewed for the next school year.

The board voted unanimously to direct Metzler to schedule a special meeting next week to discuss the budget issues further before deciding on contract renewals.

Talk of possible layoffs has generated concern among staff and students.

Bryan Lavoie, student representative to the school board, said multiple petitions are circulating because students are worried about losing their teachers. He said every student would be “drastically affected” if positions are eliminated.

Some people in the audience held signs with messages that read, “Save Our Teachers. Save Our Schools.”

Several spoke in support of teachers and staff and expressed concerns about possible cuts and the impact on the entire community, which includes schools in Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown.

Metzler presented a list of positions to the board that he planned to renew, and said that he expected that more contracts would be renewed after the April 15 deadline as officials look more closely at the budget.

“We clearly need multiple scenarios,” board member Brian Boyle said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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