District filling vacancies as school year nears

NAUGATUCK — With the start of the new school year fast approaching, officials are working to fill vacant teaching positions.

Human Resources Director John Lawlor told the Board of Education last week that the district had 37 full-time teaching positions vacant this summer due to resignations, retirements and internal transfers.

As of Aug. 11, 21 of the positions were filled, three were in the interview stage, and three more were being actively recruited, Lawlor said.

“We have been working really hard, and we are anticipating that we’ll have a teacher in each classroom and we won’t have to resort to using substitutes to begin the school year,” Lawlor said.

Filling the vacant positions will result in an estimated savings of $300,000 in the 2016-17 school budget, according to Lawlor. The savings are primarily from replacing higher-paid veteran employees with new employees who make less, he said.

A portion of that savings will go to pay for a new kindergarten teacher at Hop Brook Elementary School.

The school board approved the position last week to alleviate large kindergarten class sizes at the school. There are 75 kindergarten students registered at Hop Brook, which meant three classes of 25 students, according to officials.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said the district tries to keep class sizes smaller, especially for kindergarteners. A fourth kindergarten teacher at Hop Brook would bring the class sizes down to 18 or 19 students per class.

The new teacher, which will cost about $65,000 a year, is an additional position and was not in the board’s adopted budget, Montini said.