Union: No Options Left to Save Woodstock Teachers Being Cut

Woodstock — The teachers union and the Woodstock Union High School and Middle School Board have exhausted all options to save teachers’ jobs, including a 2010 Vermont math teacher of the year. Now it’s up to voters to decide whether to approve the budget on Town Meeting Day.

Teachers union representative Keri Bristow said the board rejected the union’s proposal to save teachers’ positions from being cut or downgraded from the proposed school budget on Friday. On Jan. 16, the board passed a proposed $11.3 million budget that included layoffs and downgrading of faculty and staff from full-time to part-time positions. The cuts are expected to save $325,000 for the 2013-14 school year and affect 11 faculty and staff members.

In the proposed budget, Erin Danner, the high school math teacher of the year, a high school art teacher and two family/consumer science paraprofessionals are slated to be cut. Faculty and staff facing a reduction in hours include a high school Spanish teacher, high school special education teacher, high school counselor, middle school English teacher, middle school social studies teacher and a middle school physical education teacher.

The driving factor behind teacher cuts and reduction of hours have to do with declining school enrollment, according to School Board Chairman Dwight Doton. He said WUHS has 10 to 13 students per class and the state recommends 18 to 22.

The proposed staffing changes would increase class sizes to 16 to 18 students per class and WUHS would still meet state standards for class sizes, Doton said. Math and art had the lowest student-teacher ratio at WUHS.

“We decided that we could afford to raise student (class) sizes,” Doton said.

“We still have a very talented math department and this has nothing to do with Ms. Danner. There are never too many math teachers in this district. Our problem was simply a decline in students.”

At this point, there will be no more meetings to discuss alternative funding proposals, according to Bristow and Doton. Bristow was disappointed with the School Board’s decision.

“Most cuts are made with the lowest paid employees but not all of them,” she said. “We have very little input into the process. We just simply react.”

Woodstock residents will vote on the school budget on March 5, Town Meeting Day.

CORRECTION

Woodstock residents will vote on a school budget on Town Meeting Day, but do not have a direct vote on a teachers contract. An earlier version of this story was unclear on that point.