Quincy to lay off 75 teachers if budget is approved in vote

By Molly A.K. Connors
Globe Correspondent / June 10, 2010

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QUINCY — As the city’s School Committee finalized a budget last night that would lay off about 118 people, including approximately 75 teachers, Mayor Thomas P. Koch said residents could be hit with an incremental tax increase next year.

The $85.5 million school budget, which requires a formal vote by School Committee members tonight and approval by the City Council on Monday, will contain cuts less painful than previously predicted but residents will still see reduced services, and increased class sizes and fees, officials said.

The schools had faced a budget gap of roughly $9 million that would have caused about 200 layoffs, but approximately 80 jobs were restored after deferral of a 4 percent pay raise last month by the teachers union saved the schools close to $2.3 million. In addition, the mayor found $500,000 in savings in the city’s budget, thus reducing the anticipated unemployment payments. The city has promised that any savings on unemployment payments would go to the schools.

The mayor, who raised taxes in 2008 during his first year in office, has called the rate of growth in city government unsustainable and pledged to not raise property taxes to close a budget gap of roughly $12 million in the overall $230 million budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.

However, in an interview after the school board hearing, Koch said such an increase might be inevitable for 2012.

“The reality is, going forward, we’re going to have to look at an incremental increase,’’ said Koch, who also said there are “too many unknowns’’ to discuss specifics about a tax hike.

Though she said it was “too little, too late,’’ School Committee member Anne M. Mahoney said she would still welcome a tax increase.

“I’ll take anything I can get,’’ Mahoney said.

The schools, which received about 3.6 percent less from Koch for fiscal 2011 than fiscal 2010, join other city departments making deep cuts, ranging from 3.7 percent in the police and fire departments to nearly 10 percent for the libraries.

If the final school budget clears its formal approvals, full-day kindergarten, middle school foreign language instruction, and the elementary school gifted children program will remain intact, but media and technology teachers at the middle and elementary schools will be laid off, among other changes, officials said.

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