Region 1 voters will head to the polls Thursday to vote on a revised 2013-14 school budget after defeating the first one in a referendum May 7.
The latest proposal is $17,668 more than the last, with 1.4 of the 5.4 teaching positions restored at a recent board meeting, but additional cuts were made.
The plan was rejected by a margin of 236 votes, with Kent the only one of the region’s six towns to approve it.
During a hearing before the referendum, more than 100 residents turned out, the majority expressing their opposition to the cutting of the 5.4 positions; four full-time teachers of art, science, English and math, along with a part-time social studies teacher.
There are also no plans to replace an applied education teacher who is retiring.
Housatonic Valley Regional High School Principal Matthew Harnett said the reductions were being made because of the declining enrollment and there were not enough students to place before teachers. At a subsequent board meeting, the art teacher’s job was reinstated, as was the 0.4 social studies position.
The board also was questioned about the implementation of a part-time dean of students’ position. That person was being hired to aid the assistant principal in dealing with discipline so that the administrator’s time could be freed to conduct teacher evaluations. During the board meeting following the vote, the dean’s position was eliminated.
There also were objections raised to the central office administrators getting threeyear contracts with 2 percent raises for each of those three years. At the board meeting, members voted to ask the superintendent, assistant superintendent and business manager to reopen negotiations. A meeting is being scheduled with the All Board Chairmen Committee next week to discuss reopening the contracts. That advisory group makes recommendations to the Region 1 Board of Education on administrative contract matters.
After the vote, the board took $30,000 from the unemployment line and $4,265 from the line for the librarian’s summer work. Library media specialist Vance Cannon said he uses the first 15 or 20 hours of his 80 hours of summer work to prepare the videotape of commencement, which uses three cameras. He said he’d love not to do it and be able to walk in the graduation ceremony with his colleagues, but it would cost thousands of dollars to have a professional perform that task.
“The other big thing is weeding the collection, which is critical in an academic library and I am not where I would like to be in that regard as it is,” Cannon said. “If they really do cut the hours — and I trust they will not — we would have to keep the library closed to students and classes for the first two to three weeks. At least that is what I would ask the principal for permission to do.”
Board Vice Chairman Jonathan Moore of Kent said, “The budget is financially and educationally responsible because it addresses declining enrollment and the need for enhanced technology.”
Thursday’s vote will be held in the region’s six town halls from noon to 8 p.m.