In response to a board request to keep the budget flat and reduce it by our regular surplus, Superintendent Metzler has suggested laying off 20 support staff, 11.5 administrators and 25-50 members of the Timberlane Teachers’ Association. That is a maximum total of 81.5 full-time equivalent positions.
The public reaction has been swift and sharp. The superintendent has been accused of being deliberately hurtful out of spite. You don’t want to support my budget? Fine, I’ll slash and burn! Memories of “closing” Sandown Central spring to mind.
This time, the superintendent is on to something, maybe in spite of himself.
If you compare the staffing levels in all our schools to comparable schools with very similar enrollment numbers, you can see for yourself the staggering differences. Timberlane has far more staff than other comparable districts. Charts below. (Because of the lack of a comparable, Mr. Green did not include staffing at Sandown Central in his total staffing review.)
Superintendent Metzler has opened up the secret of Timberlane’s extraordinary cost to taxpayers for all to see. ($20,000 per student per year.) What the elected officials have to do now is insist that long overdue staffing cuts are done with a minimum of unemployment costs so that our dollars are going to education and not avoidable benefits. It should be possible to do most of the teacher workforce reductions by attrition, and the maximum number of teacher positions up for cutting should be closer to 36, not Dr. Metzler’s 50. By memory, we had close to 40 new teacher hirings this year, which means there is sufficient turnover in teaching staff for reductions by attrition. Administrators are on year-to-year contracts so no unemployment benefits are owed there with sufficient notice. The public should not be afraid of badly overdue workforce reductions. Management excellence that produces good fiscal discipline also produces educational excellence.
Via a Right to Know request, Arthur Green obtained the most recent staffing reports filed with the state Department of Education (16/17) He compared this information with Timberlane’s current (17/18) staffing report to the DOE, also obtained via Right to Know. (The difference in the years had to do with the availability of enrollment figures for all districts.) When comparing schools of similar size and mostly in districts with similar or better academic results at the 11th grade level, he was able to directly compare number of classrooms and staffing levels. By Mr. Green’s calculation – and without touching any of Timberlane’s special education staffing – TRSD can lose 96 full-time equivalent positions and still leave all of Timberlane’s schools more generously staffed than comparable schools. Cutting 96 FTEs is feasible without affecting any special education teachers or aids. A total staffing reduction in the range of 40-50 FTEs spread over different job categories is easily achievable in one year.