WUMHS meeting will address teacher cuts tonight
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 16,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
A bus leaves Woodstock Union High School on Tuesday.
WOODSTOCK — Parents, students and educators will get a chance to sound off on proposed layoffs and other cuts for nine Woodstock Union Middle School and High School teachers at 7 p.m. tonight in the Rhoda Teagle Library at the Woodstock Union High School.
Keri Bristow, a teacher’s union representative, said two paraprofessionals and three teachers may receive pink slips at the end of the school year while four teachers will have their hours cut. Although the staffing cuts are not official, faculty and staff were still disappointed when they heard the news.
“They were all informed last Thursday. They are heartbroken,” Bristow said. “There has been talk about this since late fall but it wasn’t really communicated to the general public until recently.”
The School Board is looking at cost reductions due to declining enrollment and education state funding, particularly because the school is anticipating lower student numbers for the 2013-2014 school year, according to Windsor Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Alice Thomason Worth.
Thomason Worth said the school administration was charged with the task of looking at class sizes, determining which ones were overstaffed and whether reductions were warranted. According to Thomason Worth, the state recommends class sizes of 18 to 22 students.
If the cuts are approved, class sizes will still fall below that threshold, Thomason Worth said. Class sizes are currently 10 to 13 students per class. The proposed staffing changes would increase class sizes to 16 to 18 students per class.
Bristow said the proposed cuts will release $325,000 from the fiscal year 2013-2014 school budget. She thinks external factors beyond the schools’ control are the cause of lower student numbers.
“I think the economics in Vermont have contributed declining enrollment,” Bristow said. “There are very few school districts that aren’t in the same situation. People are also having fewer kids and we live in a fairly wealthy area. Buying a home can be difficult for young families.”
Thomason Worth agreed with Bristow that schools across the state are coping with declining student numbers. Finding a solution that saves money and does not compromise education is the dilemma.
“The challenge we’re facing is how do we maintain good quality schools as we have dwindling enrollment? If you look statewide, it’s happening everywhere,” Thomason Worth said. “Funding is very complicated. But fundamentally how far do the taxpayers want to go or can go in terms of their increased tax rates, which results from higher budgets and fewer students?”
For more information on tonight’s meeting call 457-1213.