The Regional #10 Public School District, made up of students from Burlington and Harwinton, is planning to cut least $1.6 million from its annual budget and to lay off at least 18 staff in the coming weeks.
Superintendent Alan Beitman expressed frustration with the continuing budget impasse and the mixed messages coming from legislators and the governor regarding funds for education, and added, "just tell us what the bottom line is. Let us at least deal with it."
Beitman's efforts to keep parents in the loop about the budget's impacts on the region's schools are appreciated by local parent Samantha Fongemie, who said, "He's so dedicated to the school and calls us and lets us know that he doesn't want to have to do these cuts. We just wish that there was more we can do."
With an estimated cut to the education budget of $1.6 million, Beitman and the first selectmen of Harwinton and Burlington have looked at what they can do to maintain services and programs for the district's nearly 2,400 students. Harwinton first selectman Michael Criss explained their focus has remained on making sure the effects to students are as minimal as possible. He added the trio, "met numerous times over the last few months, and even beforehand, to really put together concrete plans so that the children don’t suffer."
In order to save money, the district plans to lay off 18 to 25 non-certified employees, out of a total of 400 employees, who do not work directly with students.
Beitman worries these layoffs may not be enough to cover the eventual budget needs of the district, and commented, "after this, we have no place to go but looking at our certified staff – meaning our teachers. Even cutting the number of positions that I am, we’re eliminating only $400,000 from our $1.6 million cut."
In addition, the district has needed to re-organize its administration and cut four vice-principal positions last Thursday. The news was disheartening to Fongemie, who moved her family here from Plainville specifically so her son could attend school in Region 10, and told NBC Connecticut, "I think that’s the worst part is that it’s so unknown. You know you move to a town with reassurance and now you just have so much that is unknown. It’s really discouraging."
Fongemie added she hopes legislators will come up with a state budget soon. For now, layoff notices will be sent out on Oct. 23 to the affected employees.