Tough Lesson for Hartford Teachers; 122 Face Layoffs

Concerned teachers and parents rallied outside the Learning Corridor in Hartford ahead of a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

They're upset that 254 jobs would cut under the proposed budget for next year.

"If we keep losing jobs teachers and paraprofessionals, these kids need a lot of work. They need a lot of help. If you take that away, it's a lot harder for the teachers to do their jobs," said Jeff Brennan, a Hartford physical education teacher.

Other proposed layoffs include about 10 guidance counselors, 2.5 social workers, about 17 clerical and secretary positions and 30 paraprofessionals.

20 of those paraprofessionals are in special education.

Lucy Smith is worried that would impact her six-year-old disabled son.

'If they cut that, he is going to fall behind even more," Smith said. "That's going to jeopardize his future and that's why I'm here, to fight for his future."

60 people signed up to speak out at the packed meeting.

District officials said the cuts are necessary given the state's flat funding and other potential funding losses.

"Our main focus here is to structure a budget that is going to minimize the impact on learning as much as possible," said David Medina, External Communications Director for Hartford Public Schools. "So of 254 positions, for example, 48 are coming from the Central Office."

Of the teacher cuts, Fox Middle School is closing and Quirk Middle School is phasing out grade levels, so 52 of the positions are from those schools.

But the teacher's union says anyone with seniority can bump others, so the job losses will be felt district-wide.

"A lot of us, we don't know where we are going to be," Jeff Brennan said.

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