Thursday night, the Board of Education voted to lay off five teachers and reduce another teacher’s position by 20 percent because of budget and enrollment constraints.
The board unanimously voted to not renew the contracts of Ellen Getty, Aerilee Degiacomo, Catherine McDonald, Michelle Pyka, Mary Hendrickson and Jessica Hildahl. Hildahl’s position was reduced from full-time to 80 percent, while the other five teachers will not have jobs in Waterford next year because of budget constraints, according to Superintendent Jerome Belair.
Board member Kevin Brunelle said the layoffs were "due to budgetary circumstances and not due to performance."
Three of the reductions were results of last year’s cuts. The other three were from declining enrollment in the Waterford School District.
Two elementary school teachers were laid off because Waterford is expecting 78 fewer students next year, and there was not the need, Belair said. Hildahl, who teaches Latin, is having her position reduced because enrollment in Latin is down, he said.
Last year, the board , although several had their jobs reinstated because other teachers went on leave for a year. Two teachers who were on leave are coming back next year, and they knocked out two other teachers who were originally laid off, were rehired because of an open spot, and now are being laid off again because their spot goes to the returning teacher with more seniority, Belair said.
The final teacher is an art teacher who was laid off last year. The teacher went on leave this year, tried to come back for next year but there was still no spot for her, Belair said.
Belair stressed after the meeting that the teachers were laid off because of budget constraints and not because of their performance. Per union contract, teachers are laid off based on their seniority, with the teachers with the least experience being the first to be let go. There is a chance the teachers could be reinstated if other teachers go on leave for next year or unexpectedly leave the district.
The Board of Education met in executive session before the meeting Thursday night to discuss the lay offs. During the regular meeting, the board approved the non-renewals unanimously, without discussion.