Board of Ed. chief says Hartford schools to cut hundreds of jobs

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HARTFORD - Hartford Public Schools plans to cut hundreds of jobs.

"When the revenue goes down and expenses go up every year you can't maintain the same level of programming," said Hartford Board of Education Chairman Richard F. Wareing, confirming the school board is looking at cut “north of 200 positions” for the next school year. "Everything is on the table. I don't want to sound too melodramatic but we have to look at every opportunity, every possible cost savings, and we have to look at every single cost to determine whether or not we can sustain it."

He said they eliminated about 85 positions last year due to budget cuts.

He said that the school system is facing a deficit of between $15-$20 million due to a shortfall in 2016/2017. He said costs are going up and certain grants are not coming through to make up the difference.

He also said that he is meeting with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin Thursday morning to discuss the budget issue.

Wareing said the school board has seen a continued decline in the budget. He said the 2015/2016 budget was $10 million less than the year before.

"We are as a city and as a state in fiscal crisis and that means there are going to be things we've gotta do that we wouldn't otherwise think about," said Mayor Luke Bronin of Hartford.

“There has been no formal notice of layoffs provided by the superintendent’s office to date. Typically there is a process that also takes into account retirements and turn-over, which have yet to be addressed," said Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1018. “Our member educators have long said that there are better choices than cuts to classroom educators and support staff that will hurt students’ educational opportunities. Talk of layoffs and the recent attempt by the mayor to silence the voices of teachers, paraprofessionals and classroom support staff reinforces the value of engaging educators as partners.

“That process of labor and management working together to solve problems is collective bargaining. Our members stand ready to collaborate with city and schools' officials to find new, innovative ways to take on the challenges we face together," said Johnson. "Hartford’s educators have always been and will always be the first supporters of our students. We don't understand why the superintendent seems to be silent on matters of collaboration."

According to the Hartford Public School website, superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez will present "a two-year plan that aligns funding with the district's strategic operating plan."

There is a BOE budget workshop scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and a public hearing on the next years's budget on Thursday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. The BOE is scheduled to adopt next year's budget on Tuesday, May 3. The BOE schedule can be found here.