Salem School staff members see hours cuts

Salem - Twelve certified staff members at Salem School will have reduced hours in the 2013-14 school year, according to a plan approved by the Board of Education Monday night.

The plan calls for a reduction of the equivalent of 3.4 full-time employees, but because of scheduling issues it would be impossible to eliminate three full-time staff members, said Superintendent Joe Onofrio. Still, reductions had to be made to compensate for declining enrollment and budget cuts imposed by the Board of Finance.

There is still a possibility of minimal reductions to non-certified staffing, according to Onofrio, but that possibility was not discussed at Monday's meeting.

Onofrio said he worked with the Board of Education's attorney, Mark Sommaruga, to ensure that the reductions would be made in the most equitable manner.

"Clearly it's a sad day for me as an educator," said Onofrio, who said he has never before had to issue reductions.

The reductions will affect two middle school science teachers, two middle school social studies teachers, and two art teachers. The following subjects will have one teacher affected: world language, health, physical education, music and technology. The guidance counselor and athletic director will also be affected by the reduction. One teacher is connected with two subjects.

"We do not believe that this course of action is good for students, faculty or the Salem community and do not in any way support this plan of action," said Michael Sweeney, president of the Salem Federation of Teachers, an affiliate American Federation of Teachers.

Sweeney said that there are "various alternative options" to the reductions and that the union would be willing to enter into discussions with the Board of Education and Salem School administration.

Barbara Jones, who has taught at Salem School for 30 years, asked board members if they had considered that they may be facing the resignations of teachers who can't afford to work part-time.

"Do we have a Plan B here?" asked Jones. "Or are we going to be scrambling in September?"

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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