Southington’s Board of Education is considering instituting a pair of furlough days that could make a significant dent in the system’s $2 million budget shortfall.
The issue of furloughs was brought to the attention of teachers in the Southington Education Association. The group’s president sent a memo to all members, which was obtained by NBC Connecticut, informing them of the possible furlough days.
Southington’s Superintendent, Tim Connellan, said he and the board have targeted Feb. 20 as a possible furlough day that would have minimal impact on the classroom, since it’s a planned professional development day when children will not be in school.
The memo sent by union leadership to members ruled out that date, saying, “Taking a February 20 furlough day is not feasible given such a short timeframe to understand the needs of our members, rapidly changing information regarding state funding and local budget allocations, as well as coordinating our actions with other bargaining units in town.”
Connellan told NBC Connecticut that he was hoping to “keep negotiations informal,” rather than negotiate furloughs out in the open. He did say he had no control over the decision by SEA leadership to send out a message to members.
The Board of Education is considering a second furlough day that would be the reduction of the school year from 181 days to 180, and the union memo did not oppose that possibility outright.
One furlough day would save the school district $255,000, so two furloughs would lead to more than $500,000, more than a quarter of the projected budget shortfall.
Superintendent Connellan described the savings as “significant.” Without the savings, Connellan said he could not rule out layoffs.
The union memo addressed the possibility of layoffs, saying the group hoped to avoid them. The memo concluded, saying, We hope that the town of Southington lives up to its name, "the city of progress," by funding its school system without making drastic cuts to programs and staff, adversely affecting the lives of town employees, parents and the children of this community.