NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 6, 2013

Parents fight to retain second-grade teachers

Proposed budget before voters to include $82,000 hike

SEABROOK — Parents Monday night rallied effectively to increase next year’s school budget by more than $80,000 in hopes of preventing teacher cuts in the second grade.

At the school district’s deliberative session, Cathy Brown handed the typed amendment to Seabrook School District Moderator Paul Kelley in a formal motion to add $82,360 back into the proposed $11,993,805 school budget to restore a second-grade teaching position that school officials had been forced to cut.

Brown said the $82,369 figure was what SAU 21’s finance manager said was needed to restore the position.

Brown’s motion, backed by a pamphlet expounding on the benefits of small class size, was supported by the scores of parents who turned out for the deliberative session. Her motion passed almost unanimously, but not before a number of parents stood up and told Seabrook’s five-member school board and school administrators just how bad an idea they believe cutting positions is.

Even Seabrook Budget Committee member Paula Wood applauded the parents’ efforts. As chairwoman of the Budget Committee, Wood agreed with school officials’ decision to cut teachers to reduce the budget. But as a resident, she said she didn’t support the move.

Erica Stocker, the mother of two Seabrook students, said she hasn’t had the heart to tell her child his teacher may have to go if the school board carries through on its plan to reduce the teaching force at the second-grade level.

“If I did, he’d be crushed,” she said. “Right now, he loves to go to school.”

School Board Chairman Bruce Casassa said the hope is that positions, not specific teachers, will be cut. Teachers have until April to sign and return their contracts or notify the district they will be leaving for whatever reason, he said. Casassa believes attrition might handle the reduction in second-grade positions, so laying off specific teachers won’t be necessary. But, he said, that won’t be known until April.

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