Bloomfield Schools Budget Cuts 86 Teacher Jobs
Teacher jobs are cut along with additional cuts in administration and secretaries.
Bloomfield’s 2013-2014 budget will fall short of the 100-plus job cuts staff discussed by the board in February, but not by much.
The budget passed by a divided school board at their special meeting on Tuesday, March 5, entails the loss of 86 teaching jobs for the district, as well as between four and five secretaries and two to four members of the administrative staff.
The 86 teachers in danger of losing their jobs represent about 16 percent of the approximately 540 teachers in the district.
Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Jason Bing emphasized that the numbers were tentative and said that he and the board would work to reduce the number of layoffs before the budget is finalized on March 27.
The board vote was 7-2, with Board members Catzel Bumpus and Robert DeMarino voting against the budget.
A large but mostly quiet crowd packed the board meeting room to hear the vote and explanation of the staffing cuts it entailed following a closed hour and fifteen meeting executive session of the board. John Shanagher, head of the Bloomfield Education Association teachers union, was one of only two attendees to speak during open comment section.
In comments to Patch, Shanagher termed the teaching staff cuts an “outrage,” saying that while he opposed any cuts, he felt that the budget pain was falling on the backs of the teachers and that there was a lack of parity with administrative and secretarial staff.
During the meeting, Bing and other school officials said that administrative staff members could take on extra roles including working in classrooms. Bing said that looking at the various line items in the budget, the board had to assess where they would get the “most bang for the buck” with regards to reducing class size.
“I understand the onerous impact that will have on administration, but there’s an onerous impact on me, which is class size,” Shanagher said.
Another speaker seemed dubious that the board would be able to control class size in light of student population growth that Bing put at 4.5 percent.
The budget also included two questions for the November, 2013 ballot. The first asked voters if they would be willing to pay $2,730,000 to restore the jobs of 42 instructional staff members. The second requests a tax increase of $594,000 to repair and upgrade school facilities.
“This is a work in progress,” Bing said, urging the public to contact his office with ideas. “Any suggestions you have, we are open.”