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Waterford laying off three non-tenured teachers

By Tess Townsend

Publication: The Day

Published May 01. 2014 4:00AM
Lower enrollment figures cited

Waterford - The Board of Education has notified three non-tenured elementary school teachers that their contracts will not be renewed in the fall. The eliminations are akin to layoffs, according to Superintendent Jerome Belair.

Belair said the staff - a second-grade and a third-grade teacher at Oswegatchie Elementary School, and a kindergarten teacher at Quaker Hill Elementary - are slated to be let go due to decreased enrollment.

The district has seen an 18 percent drop in enrollment since the 2003-04 school year, according to nonprofit educational organization New England School Development Council (NESDEC).

"If we had a place for them, we wouldn't have reduced in force," Belair said Tuesday, later adding that he hoped the teachers would be recalled or transferred to other positions. "We'll see how it goes."

He said the district actually eliminated four elementary teaching positions, but one of the teachers is retiring.

The board also plans to decrease hours for an Oswegatchie art teacher and Great Neck Elementary music teacher, and has notified six long-term substitute teachers that their contracts are ending.

The board voted on the reductions at its April 24 meeting. Meeting minutes state that the eliminations are "not due to performance."

Districts are required by law to notify staff by May 1 if their contracts are not being renewed, according to Joyce Cumming, assistant to the superintendent. Teachers who lose their positions remain on a recall list for two years, according to Belair.

Belair said he spoke to the teachers privately before the vote to let them know their positions were at risk.

The school budget presented to the Board of Finance in March includes additions to staff, including three elementary paraprofessional positions in mathematics, and an additional school psychologist and additional social worker.

Teachers whose contracts are not renewed can theoretically transfer to other open positions, if they have the proper certifications, according to Belair.

Last year, the district eliminated a social studies teacher position at Clark Lane Middle School, according to minutes from the board's April 13, 2013, meeting. Belair said that the district did not have a position for that teacher this year and that the teacher remains on the recall list.

t.townsend@theday.com

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