Bristol Warren schools cut teachers, sports and more

School district eliminates more than a dozen positions, including teachers, vice principal, IT and more

By Scott Pickering
Posted 7/3/19

The superintendent of schools is gone, and it’s become clear what he spent a significant amount of time doing in his last weeks on the job — cutting.

On the same night when the …

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Bristol Warren schools cut teachers, sports and more

School district eliminates more than a dozen positions, including teachers, vice principal, IT and more

Posted

The superintendent of schools is gone, and it’s become clear what he spent a significant amount of time doing in his last weeks on the job — cutting.

On the same night when the departed Mario Andrade resigned his post, the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee adopted a preliminary budget that cut about $2.5 million from its original proposal for the fiscal year that began on Monday. The school administration was forced to make cuts after the Joint Finance Committee gave it a 2.5 percent increase which, combined with a decrease in state funding, left the district about $2.5 million short of what it was seeking (originally it asked for an 8.5 percent increase from Bristol and Warren taxpayers).

To make ends meet, Dr. Andrade and his team reluctantly withdrew some money from their surplus fund, and they eliminated a host of teaching and support positions, many of them at Mt. Hope High School. At the high school, the following positions have been eliminated:

  • A vice principal;
  • A business teacher;
  • A physical education teacher;
  • An art teacher;
  • An industrial technology teacher;
  • A social studies teacher;
  • A science teacher;
  • 16 hours for another physical education teacher;
  • and 24 hours for a teacher assigned to the PASS (Personal Assistance Supports and Services) program, to support special education student(s).

The elimination of eight full-time-equivalents at Mt. Hope resulted from a combination of layoffs and not filling vacant positions after several people retired. In addition, Mt. Hope is forced to abandon the eight-period block schedule it had adopted for the past two years, and it will be reverting back to a standard, seven-period schedule.

There are more cuts.

The athletic director has been reduced to an 11-month schedule.

The boys’ indoor track program has been eliminated.

The boys’ golf program will be converted from an interscholastic sport to a club sport.

Multiple clerical positions have been eliminated throughout the district.

A math support specialist has been eliminated.

An information technology position is eliminated.

And an elementary school librarian has been eliminated — Guiteras and Rockwell schools will now share one librarian.

New investments in behavior

Despite all the cuts, the school district is actually increasing expenditures in another area. It is investing approximately $400,000 into new social, emotional and behavioral supports, largely focused at Kickemuit Middle School and Hugh Cole School. The new programs and personnel were promised by both the administration and school committee after middle school teachers staged a mini-revolt in January. The teachers’ ‘sick out’ put a spotlight on behavioral problems at the middle school, and through a series of meetings and negotiations, the administration and union developed a new plan for the coming year.

However, to pay for the new investments, the administration is withdrawing the $400,000 from its surplus account, something it does not like doing under these circumstances. Said Director of Finance and Operations Raquel Pellerin, “That solution is not sustainable. These programs will need to remain in place and will require ongoing funding, and the use of fund balance is intended for one-time expenditures.”

Ms. Pellerin added that they are doing anything they can to reduce expenses. “To the extent possible, expenses such as supplies and materials and contracted services were reallocated to alternative funding sources such as grants,” she wrote in a statement.

This budget is preliminary, and it will not be finalized until the end of September. In the meantime, the district is continuing to look for more funding sources, and more ways to save money.

“School and district leaders are committed to working collaboratively to explore every option possible and adopt a final budget that maintains core programming, access to advanced coursework, extracurricular activities, and enhances critical support services for our students,” wrote Ms. Pellerin.

“As a school community, we have a difficult challenge regarding this year’s budget, but we are committed to finding ways to make cuts that have the least impact on our students, who are our number-one priority.”

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