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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2010

Bedford school board fails to OK teacher cuts

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LAMBERTVILLE - A resolution to send layoff notices to 49 Bedford Public School teachers failed by one vote last night at a special school board meeting.

School officials said the plan to give pink slips to tenured and nontenured classroom teachers is part of the plan to cut costs and help offset a projected $5.1 million budget deficit for next school year.

Joe Gore, a trustee on the board, voted against the layoffs while board President Shawna Smith and trustees Kim Hooper and Ann Myers supported the resolution. Three board members didn't attend the meeting.

"I don't agree with layoffs," Mr. Gore, a Monroe County deputy sheriff, said after the meeting.

Colleen Jan, president of the 308-member Bedford Education Association, said she expected that the board would call another meeting when more board members could attend and would take another stab at the resolution.

"We are safe until they can give us three days' notice and bring in the people they know they need who will vote the way they want them to vote," she said.

Like other school districts across the county, Bedford schools is projecting cuts from the state in the per-pupil funding.

School officials said that the number of teaching positions that ultimately would be eliminated is contingent on state cuts and how many teachers could be lured into an early severance plan.

The plan is being offered to those with at least 20 years with the district.

Last year, the school district, facing a similar funding scenario, laid off 47 teachers and other staff but eventually recalled everyone except three teachers.

Superintendent Ted Magrum said at the meeting that he hoped that many of the layoffs wouldn't be needed and the district could begin recalling teachers as soon as possible.

"Tonight is a process, but it is a process that is required," he said. "I don't take any pride in doing this."

Under the collective bargaining contract with the union, the school district is facing a May 20 deadline to take action on the layoffs.

Mr. Magrum said after the meeting that he was surprised that the resolution failed.

"I will have to go back to the board and see what their desire is. If they want not to have layoffs or meet again to discuss it," he said.

Sarah Anderson, a fourth-grade teacher at Smith Road Elementary, was among the targeted teachers.

She said she felt relieved but suspected it would be just a matter of time before the layoffs would be approved.

"For today I am safe. I almost would rather have them do it and get it over with if they are going to do it," said Mrs. Anderson, a five-year employee of the district.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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