NORWALK, Conn. – Bruce Mellion said he's been working to reduce the number of Norwalk elementary school teachers that will get a pink slip soon, with some success.
The president of the Norwalk Federation of Teachers said resignations could offset some of the need to lay off teachers. The total number of teachers will still be reduced, but much of the exodus will be voluntary.
"It does appear that we will lose probably a dozen to a dozen and a half teachers as of this date," he said. "Hopefully it will get better, but I don't have enough resignations to offset all of the cuts."
"We haven't seen anything," said Board of Education Chairperson Jack Chiaramonte. "Bruce also told me last year he'd have 10 retirements for us. He promised us 10 to save us a million and he only produced five, of which only four counted. I'll believe it when I see it."
Twenty-two elementary school teachers were expected to be cut in the reconciliation plan approved by the board of education on July 12. The board is expected to reduce the number of teacher and other staff to be laid off Tuesday night due to an influx of $365,000 in expedited Medicare payments.
Mellion said some teachers are expected to resign to go to other districts but they don't get their contracts until early August. Mellion said he sent out a generic email to teachers last week saying it looked like 15 to 18 teachers would be laid off, as the numbers just didn't add up the way he hoped they would.
"I just think it's a little optimistic to think that we're going to be able to place everyone," he said. "I just don't think it's going to happen. I was hoping, I really was, but now it looks like it's a long shot."
No one has gotten a lay-off notice yet, in order to avoid chaos, he said. When they do, their unemployment payments will be made retroactive to June 18, Mellion said.
"We're looking to get the maximum number of vacancies for elementary so we can place as many people as possible, that's the goal," Mellion said. "If we place them then we don't have to pay unemployment, which saves us more money. It's a win-win situation.
"I'm always looking to save money in spite of what Jack thinks."