NAUGATUCK — Only one teacher ended up losing her job as a result of the closing of Central Avenue Elementary School and Prospect Street Preschool, according to administrators.
Retirements and resignations caused the Board of Education to hire back the other eight teachers who were laid off as part of a reconfiguration for this school year, Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson said. Preschoolers from Prospect Street moved into Central Avenue and students at the former elementary school were redistributed throughout the borough system.
The teachers who were laid off had taught for the least amount of time in borough schools and were first in line to fill vacancies that arose afterward, according to their union contract. The one teacher who was not rehired taught second grade at Central Avenue Elementary School and has taken a job in another district, Tindall-Gibson said.
Tindall-Gibson said he had predicted attrition among more senior teachers would lead the school system to hire back many who had been laid off.
The plan to close the schools, as presented in April, also called for the elimination of a part-time nurse, two custodians, a principal, a part-time guidance counselor, a secretary and a crossing guard.
No principals were laid off because Christine Blanchard retired from City Hill Middle School, causing other principals to move around until the gaps were filled.
A secretary was laid off but there was no reduction in custodial staff, said John Lawlor, director of human resources. He did not have information about the other positions.
The school closures were supposed to save $1.2 million, but could have saved more because less senior, lower-paid teachers took over for their higher-salaried counterparts who retired, Tindall-Gibson said. The borough also saved about $83,000 in unemployment insurance.
Despite this year’s budget cuts, Tindall-Gibson said he anticipated a few more layoffs could come next year.
The school system last was approved for an increase of more than $635,000 from the state Department of Education, with the caveat that it be spent on initiatives to reform education in the struggling district. This year’s budget included that money as revenue, and without even more money, the same staffing levels might not be maintained, Tindall-Gibson said.
“Budgets are still suppressed, and there’s no reason to think there’s going to be any increase in funding,” Tindall-Gibson said. “We’ve been in a cycle for four years that’s going to continue for at least three, four years or more.”