NORWALK, Conn. – Five Norwalk teaching positions were restored at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting, using Medicaid reimbursement funds and money that was meant for unemployment payments. Board members agreed not to "kick the can down the road" with other funds that were available, declining to use that money to reinstate more teachers.
Several school system employees and residents urged the board to consider reinstating library staff. But board members Rosa Murray, Mike Lyons, Mike Barbis, Sue Haynie and Jack Chiaramonte voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Susan Marks' latest restoration budget, reinstating the five elementary school teaching positions and one assistant principal position.
That was a distribution of $470,530. Five assistant principals – Marybeth Crupi, Hugh McKeirnan, Jenna Masone, Patti Mattera and Christopher Weiss – have resigned, relieving the board of $75,000 in unemployment payments. That was added to the $365,606 in Medicaid reimbursements announced last week.
The $475,000 leftover from the last budget year was also discussed. Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo recommended using the money to pay down the school board's debt to the city's health insurance fund, which covers school employees. But Kendall Elementary School Principal Tony Ditrio asked that that money be used to reinstate more positions, leaving more to be repaid next July.
Board members sided unanimously with Longo. "This is the beginning of long-term responsible budgeting," Lyons said.
The assistant principal addition would mean there is half an assistant principal at every school, Marks said. Staff members are keeping a close eye on classroom sizes, she said, explaining that she wanted to hold one teaching position in abeyance as classroom size figures come in, thinking it might go to Wolfpit Elementary School. Currently, five fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in five schools are expected to have 27 students or more. And three third-grade classes have 25 or 26 students.
School staff members would be placed and "know where they are going to land" by Aug. 17, her last day as superintendent, Marks said. She promised to call everyone who is laid off to personally thank them for their work and acknowledged that it was hard on everyone, with many people changing schools.
The board members also voted unanimously to enter into a one-year agreement with CompuClaim, a web-based Medicaid billing service. The company will receive 5 percent of the revenue it collects as payment.
Updated 9:30 a.m.