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Board Of Education Officially Lays Off 11

Names Of The 11 Released

As just another symptom of the massive financial problems facing Waterford and the rest of the country, the board of education voted Thursday night to lay off 11 full-time employees.

The board unanimously voted to not renew the contracts of Barbara Comstock-King, Michelle Condon, Ellen Getty, Donna Gilberto, Stephanie Glenn, Aerilee Harper, Mary Hendrickson, Michael Manifold, Catherine McDonald, Michelle Pyka and Megan Sheehan. It was not an easy decision, education officials said.

“We are trying to make up ,” Superintendent Jerome Belair said. “We are dealing with a 'Sophie’s Choice' with this budget.”

The board could bring back the teachers if extra money is found in the budget, Belair said. The teachers were laid off because of the budget, and not performance, he emphasized.

Several art teachers, a current Waterford student and Waterford graduate spoke out against reducing the amount of full-time equivalents certified in art from 2.5 to 1.4, which reduces the amount of art a elementary students will have from two out of every six days to one of every six days. Facing the tight budget and the increases in health insurance and salaries, the board had to cut somewhere, Belair said.

Pay-To-Participate Discussion

Belair submitted a pay-to-participate model to the board that charges $50 per sport, $25 per activity in the high school and $25 per sport,  and $10 per activity in the middle school. The proposal could generate an additional $44,000, Belair said.

However, the district might face additional costs in tuition or special education, so it might be best to hold off on accepting pay-to-participate until all those numbers are known, Belair said. The board took Belair’s advice and did not act on the matter, but did weigh in on the discussion.

“I just want to go on the record to say that I’m in favor (of pay-to-participate),” board member Tim Egan said. “It is the lesser of two evils, and I’m in favor of it if it can save a couple of positions.”

The board agreed to cut indoor track, a winter sport, which could be saved by a pay-to-participate program, Egan said. Without indoor track, the only winter sports available to females are cheerleading and basketball, which serves only about 40 girls, he said.

Board members Sheri Cote and Kevin Brunelle agreed with Egan. Chairman Donald Blevins and fellow members John Taglianetti and Jody Nazarchyk did not.

“I will never support pay-to-participate,” Taglianetti said. “To me, there is no difference between paying to play basketball than there is to paying to go to math class.”

Board member Kathleen McCarty said she would support pay-to-participate, but only as a last option. The board should first look into generating revenues through corporate sponsorships, she said.

“I would like us to do the research,” McCarty said. “There is money out there, we just need to find it.”

Cote, who works for the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, disagreed.

“I don’t think we should get our hopes up with this,” Cote said. “I work for a nonprofit organization that is always asking for funds, and it just isn’t easy to find anything right now.”

Board members Anne Ogden and Jessica McLaughlin both attended the meeting, but did not voice their opinion on pay-to-participate. The board could act on it later, after the budget numbers become clearer, Belair said.

Kevin Girard March 31, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Normally I'd completely agree with you. I agree that Americans in general, and especially in a relatively wealthy part of Connecticut, have a significant excess in their lives (me included) and that an extra $20/month probably isn't going to break most people. Agree completely that people's priorities are seriously askew. I'd completely agree on raising taxes if the tax raise went completely toward education (including school sports, languages, and art). Taxes are going up ~4.5% next year (with only a 3% increase in school budget - I am still struggling to figure that one out - guess we dropped 1.5% in revenue with our "tax whatever we can as much as we can" business strategies and the slumping economy). Is 4.5% considered "raise(ing) taxes a little?" And what's considered worthy? What's worthy to me as a parent of 3 young kids surely differs from the retired senior, I would think. At some point "allowing" tax raises for every worthy cause needs to be held in check. So I have to applaud those who have been working hard toward staying on a budget (but they deserve derision for promising more than they could deliver). Do the teachers deserve the 4% raise they contractually were promised? To me, they do, but I can't see sustainability in raising taxes (and town employees' salaries) at a higher rate than the salary raise in the surrounding community. BTW - The Fed doesn't let me deduct my local taxes :-(
Lori March 31, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I have to agree with Waterford Rez . I would definately give up a few cups of coffee to keep our teachers. Please stop cutting programs and staff as a solution to save a few bucks!
Kevin Girard April 01, 2011 at 01:25 AM
I've got the best idea ever... why don't we add an extra $1 tax on Starbucks and use it to pay for education. It will only hurt the rich, since only they can afford $5 cups of coffee (We'll leave DD's alone for now). Then we can have our coffee, drink it too, and support education all at the same time! It'll work just like the super high gas tax that is keeping our roads in good repair. Brilliant!
Alice Hanson April 27, 2011 at 09:16 PM
I think the whole thing is stupid. I mean, why lay off teachers to fix the budget. We are already so technology advanced. We didn't need all the prometian boards in the every single class room for CLMS, Waterford High, Great Neck, and etc. And we had microsoft 2007 and when I came back to school from April break every single computer in CLMS had Microsoft 2010. The school/town spent thousands of dollars when we didn't need to spend, microsoft 2007 worked just fine! And hey budget people, you are laying off my chorus teacher, Mrs. Comstock-King, and my art teacher, Mrs. Gilberto! I will miss them and who is gonna teach me chorus next year? Huh? I love Mrs. King will all my heart you had to make her leave. You should be ashmed of yourselves. And, all thoose other teachers, well most of them taught me in elementry school. So how you cut the spending on technology and lots of stuff we don't need and relize that we can function without all that stuff! I say keep the teachers and dump the fancy stuff. This is Alice Hanson, I am 13, and I go to CLMS, and yeah I am pround that I shouted out.
Alice Hanson April 27, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Also you cut my gym teacher Ms. Sheehan, I love her too!

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