The School Committee would have to cut about 22 positions next fiscal year if the 2012 budget stood as it did at the committee's meeting Wednesday night.
Chairman Mark Joseph said there are pending union negotiations, but as of Wednesday night 21.8 positions would be eliminated from Norwood Public Schools. The unions have until Friday to agree to a pay freeze for the upcoming school year, which would reduce the number of jobs to be cut.
“At this point there has been no vote" on the pay freeze, said Joseph in an e-mail Wednesday night. “If this vote occurs in the affirmative we will be able to restore 14.5 positions.”
Joseph said that the School Budget Sub-committee came to the decision to cut the positions “in tears."
The budget for fiscal 2012 is $34,345,233, said Joseph. He said that's the committee’s bottom line it has to work with, unless more money came into the budget.
School Committee member Paul Samargedlis said that the committee does have the ability to fight for more money and that the $34.3 million number shouldn’t be its bottom line.
“It can change, and the mechanism is Town Meeting,” said Samargedlis. He said some of the options that Town Meeting has are the stabilization fund and free cash.
The School Committee will be holding a public budget hearing next week at which residents can talk about the budget with the committee.
“If, in our public hearing next week, our constituents tell us, 'Look, I want you to fight for money on Town Meeting floor,' my intent would be to support that even if it does fail,” said Samargedlis.
Committee member William Plasko Jr. agreed the committee should bring its needs to Town Meeting. He noted that other town departments, like the Fire Department, have received additional funds, because they haven’t stayed within their budget.
Plasko said the process isn’t over.
“There’s still a lot of conversation to be had, right up to and on Town Meeting floor because I for one I’m not happy with the money and I’m going to support people that make motions to put additional funds in the school and put back things that we’ve undone,” said Plasko.
The committee went into executive session Wednesday night and voted to transfer about $96,000 to the special education account to pay for a mediation agreement, said Joseph in an e-mail. In order to make up this deficit in the budget, a nurse leader position was eliminated, which is included in the 21.8 layoffs; the music program received a $30,000 cut; and a $100,000 reduction was made to the special education tuition account.
Sarah Favot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.