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Norwalk Schools Stand To Lose 66 Positions

Update [4/2] Norwalk Public Schools may cut up to 66 positions next year, according to budget documents presented at Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Education's Finance Committee. This list includes 20 teaching positions, five elementary assistant principals, one director level position and one instructional specialist.

The possible job losses came to light as the Finance Committee met to begin what promises to be a lengthy budget reconciliation process. Norwalk Public Schools has to cut $6 million from its current spending plan after the Common Council capped its budget at $153.3 million, a 2.4 percent increase over last year.

On a more positive note, several positions were taken off the chopping block, including housemasters at Norwalk High and Brien McMahon, assistant principals at Ponus Ridge and West Rocks Middle Schools, the school to career program, the swimming and ice hockey teams, and band transportation.

Superintendent Susan Marks stressed that the list of cuts is not final. “This is a starting point. No decisions have been made. We are still taking things in and out. These are some ideas,” she said.

As for the 20 teacher positions, schools Chief Operating Officer Craig Drezek said that includes 14 anticipated retirements. Marks said she’ll be looking at enrollment projections and class sizes but did not rule out cutting teachers of “specials” such as art, music and physical education. Three additional elementary assistant principal positions were on the new list — this is on top of two already slated for reduction on the previous list.

Marks was not specific about which central office director or instructional specialist positions might be eliminated. In addition, one finance, technician and secretarial position has been added to the initial list of cuts from the central office. Districtwide, two secretarial positions, two interns and one food service position might be eliminated. Hours might be reduced for elementary school librarians. The Roton Planetarium program might also be cut.

In the first part of the meeting, Drezek presented an audit of the current year’s budget, which contained nearly $4 million in account overages. However, as a result of the hard spending freeze put in place by Marks in February, the district has recouped $2 million so far. Drezek, who arrived in Norwalk in February, recouped another $1.6 million by scouring the budget for savings.

“We have been working with every department and meeting with vendors,” Drezek said, noting that he has renegotiated insurance rates. “We’ve been nitpicking every transaction. We’re like a little mom-and-pop store trying to get by.”

What's your reaction to the recent round of proposed cuts?

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