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Hillsboro-Deering superintendent outlines narrower staffing cuts

Little more than a week after notifying 25 employees they may lose their jobs due to budget cuts, the Hillsboro-Deering School District superintendent outlined narrower potential staffing cuts.

The cuts include the equivalent of six teachers, two part-time paraprofessionals and half of a court liaison position. The board is also considering eliminating a planned $72,000 worth of computer purchases, $70,000 worth of supplies, a middle school basketball program and a new English teacher at the middle school.

The larger number of staff was notified because the superintendent is obligated by staff contracts to alert any staff who may be affected once a reduction in force is being considered.

Rich Pelletier, chairman of the Hillsboro-Deering School Board, said the board had no input in the development of the list, but would consider it a starting point for further discussion.

“There were no administrators on the list, and we talked about that. We questioned the absence of administrative positions,” he said after the meeting. “And we talked about health care and possibly asking the union to change the health plan so we could recoup some money that way, maybe $135,000. All of this was just discussion and the board has not decided anything at all. We’re going to meet on Monday. I’m sure the board is going to have other questions.”

At least 16 teachers, parents and staff members sent letters to the board and superintendent after the notices were sent. And last night, seven teachers spoke against the original proposed cuts, which would have equaled a reduction of 10 percent of the teaching staff and 20 percent of the paraprofessional staff.

“All I can tell you is from a teacher’s heart. When we cut the people who work with our kids, the kids are going to feel it,” said Pam Pascale, a teacher at Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School. “Kids today require and need so much more of us.”

The $19.7 million 2013-14 budget voters approved earlier this month is $35,000 less than the current budget, and $1 million less than the administration requested at the district deliberative session in February. The administration’s request was based on a number of mandated and contractual increases, including a $252,529 increase in payments to the New Hampshire Retirement System and $121,667 in health insurance premium increases, said Superintendent Robert Hassett.

The board released the list of potential cuts after the Monitor and Hillsboro resident John Segedy protested the decision to discuss the budget in a nonpublic session.

After a brief nonpublic discussion, under a provision of the state’s open-meeting law related to private discussions about specific employees, the board returned to the public meeting with the updated proposal.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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