BRIDGEWATER — The South Shore regional school board says it has to cut 20 teaching jobs to meet its budget for the coming school year.
But the board’s chairwoman and sole member said she expects those cuts will not result in any layoffs as the teaching staff is reduced to 507.7 fulltime equivalent positions.
“We don’t think so,” Judith Sullivan-Corney said.
Human resources director Tina Munro said five of the 20 positions are being cut because of a decline in student enrolment while the other 15 are to meet a budget reduction of $2.7 million.
“We’re hoping we’ll have enough retirements or leaves to cover (the reductions), we don’t know yet,” Munro said.
She said teachers must let schools know by April 1 if they are retiring or taking a leave.
“What we’re asking is that if someone knows they’re retiring, to let us know as soon as they can to facilitate planning and reduce anxiety for teachers,” Munro said.
Sullivan-Corney said once the board knows how many teachers are voluntarily leaving, “that’ll probably lessen the number of teachers that could be in jeopardy.”
Cuts to administration are not an option, Sullivan-Corney said, because that was done last year when 20 positions were eliminated.
“So we’re not top-heavy, and there’s a very small executive team here, so when people say ‘You have to cut the fat out of the system,’ . . . that’s already been done here.”
And Munro said the board made substantial cuts to teaching and library assistants last year, so those areas are off the table this year.
“They can’t be cut further,” without seriously hurting schools, she said.
Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake said she, Munro and program director Steve Prest have met with every school principal in the region to find out what was important to each school. “The point (of those meetings) was exactly to protect the programs and the services that are really making a difference,” the superintendent said. “No one program will be eliminated.”
Prest said the board will make changes to its alternative school program in Liverpool and Mahone Bay and at the Nova Scotia Community College in Bridgewater, but the details are not yet finalized.
“We do not anticipate cuts to staff in those programs,” he said, but some services will be relocated to allow students to have access to more courses and programming.
Pynch-Worthylake said the board has learned its financial situation earlier this year than in past years, which will help younger teachers find out sooner if they have permanent work.
Finance director Wade Tattrie said based on the elimination of 20 teaching positions, he is “very confident” the board will have a balanced budget for 2012- 13.