Thea Digiammerino

New Haven Public School Budget Plan Could Include Closing Schools, Cutting Jobs

New Haven Public School leaders are trying to figure out how to close a multi-million dollar budget shortfall for the upcoming school year, which could mean significant changes to the school district's staff and even how many schools it operates.

The budget plans were discussed at a Board of Education meeting Monday night.

Dr. Carol Birks is beginning her tenure as New Haven Schools superintendent facing a budget shortfall of $20 million. Some of her suggestions to fix that could include closing schools and eliminating staff.

“We may have to make some reductions. I just want to put that out and be very transparent about that. Because we cannot continue to operate in the manner in which we have for the past few years,” Birks said.

The New Haven School district serves 21,000 students.

“We’re not going to compromise the educational program, but we have to make sure that we right-size this district so we’re having an effective organization that’s meeting the learning and teaching needs of all of our students,” Birks said.

Birks said she and school leaders are looking at all of the city’s 48 schools and more than 4,000 employee positions to determine where they can spend more efficiently, and save wherever possible. Birks said a reduction in the number of schools the district operates is on the table.

With little more than two months left before the start of the next fiscal year, the superintendent seems hopeful that this gap can be closed while keeping the education system strong.

“We’re going to look closely at how we’re spending those dollars. How we are deploying our staff and putting people on the right seats on the bus,” she said.

The fiscal year ends June 30. Before then, the Board of Education will host town halls and budget forums to discuss the coming changes.

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