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District considers restructure

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board met with the Budget Committee on Tuesday to review the budget and warrant articles. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board met with the Budget Committee on Tuesday to review the budget and warrant articles. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board met with the Budget Committee on Tuesday to review the budget and warrant articles. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A shake-up in the structure of the middle school would help to consolidate classrooms and save on staffing costs – but the School Board hesitated over resulting inflated class sizes and disruption of the team approach.

During its meeting on Tuesday, the School Board discussed the proposed budget and warrant articles. The currently proposed budget, at $12.3 million, includes a $90,000 reduction that would result from cutting two teachers at the middle school. 

One impact of the structuring would be that the incoming sixth grade, which has 47 students, would go from three classes, as they are currently taught, to two.

The current sixth grade is currently taught by two teachers, so a position wouldn’t be lost there, but the restructuring would make it possible to cut a middle school science and English or social studies teacher. The district has a teacher that is currently employed with dual certification in middle school English and social studies that could pick up the additional class, an eighth-graders would take their science curriculum from the current freshman science instructor. 

The board decided to take a preliminary vote to not support the budget as it currently stood. While member Charlie Post clarified that his vote was as a result of thinking that the budget was set too high, the majority of the board appeared to object to the concept of cutting teachers, particularly after hearing the concerns of Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School Principal Brian Bagley.

Bagley told the board that he had concerns that the cuts would result in disruption of the team approach the middle school teachers currently use for teaching, where they collaborate on curriculum and student support. He also felt that increasing class sizes, particularly in the current sixth grade, which is the largest class in the middle school level, would be detrimental.

There were potential benefits, Bagley admitted – including one of the main motivators beyond cost savings for the restructuring, which is to offer more academic opportunities for the eighth grade, where under the new structure students would be offered more opportunities to take high school classes with freshman, including French and Spanish, Algebra I, Computer Applications and arts and music and technical courses.

The board went back and forth on the benefits of the restructuring.

Member Miriam Lemire noted that in her teaching experience, when classes were upwards of 20, there was the risk of students falling through the cracks.

School Board Chair Harry Dailey agreed that he was “very concerned” about class sizes, but also felt that the board had to find compromises somewhere to accommodate declining enrollment numbers, saying that while the district has been continually supportive, eventually taxpayers would have to draw a line at continually inflating costs. 

Member Carol LeBlanc felt that the decision hadn’t had enough time for thorough discussion or public education, recalling the decision to move the sixth grade from the elementary school to the middle school.

“We spent more than a year discussing that. This we’ve talked about for less than a month,” said LeBlanc.

The creation of the district budget ultimately lies in the hands of the Budget Committee, not the School Board, and if the board supports a different number, they must propose an amendment at the district meeting in March. The board ultimately decided not to support the budget as it was currently proposed, which includes changing the middle school structure.

Other articles on the warrant

This year, the district will be voting on a collective bargainin agreement between the School Board and the Support Staff Association.

The three-year agreement would call for an increase in salaries and benefits of $6,575 for the coming year, $16,523 for the year 2019 and $16,601 for 2020.

The first year’s appropriation is estimated to have an impact of about 1 cent for the average taxpayer in both towns.

The voters will also have the opportunity to decide whether or not to allow the district to renegotiate the bargaining agreement and call a special meeting to vote on the bargaining agreement, if they choose not to approve it. 

The district i also requesting $60,000 to be added to the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Building/Equipment and Roadway Capital Reserve Fund. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.