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New Norwalk Schools Budget Would Cut Teachers

NORWALK, Conn. — A plan to close a $10 million budget gap at Norwalk Public Schools calls for "significant reduction in teaching positions in all schools."

As many as 70 teachers could be laid off, Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiramonte said Friday.

But no schools would close and no academic or sports programs would be cut under the plan released by Superintendent Susan Marks on Friday.

Though there would be teacher layoffs, class sizes would "remain within the overall goals set forth in the teachers union contract," the plan says. The Norwalk teacher's union will fight to prevent the cuts, said Bruce Mellion, the organization's head.

"We are disappointed, we think there are alternatives," Mellion said Friday. "They say it's not going to hurt the classroom. Of course it's going to hurt the classroom. You have a catastrophic problem, and it's avoidable."

The city could loan the Board of Education some of the money to close the gap and more teachers could be given incentives to retire, Mellion said.

But Chiramonte laid some of the blame on the union.

"We asked union leadership for a pay freeze and they denied it," he said. "We said it would save jobs, save programs, and they still refused.”

Other proposed cuts include assistant principals at elementary and middle schools, library services, high school house masters and staff at district headquarters.

Programs once considered for elimination but would no longer face cuts are classes for academically talented middle and elementary school students. Also safe under the plan would be high school honors and advanced placement classes as well as varsity and junior varsity sports. Special education teachers also would not be cut under the new proposal.

The Board of Education will discuss the plan at its meeting Tuesday — which is open to the public — and then hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. June 11 in the Concert Hall in City Hall.

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