WNPR

Coping With Massive State Cuts, Groton Schools Prepare For Teacher Layoffs

Apr 10, 2017

Groton Public Schools are planning to lay off 70 staff members and close one school as the district grapples with a multi-million-dollar cut from the state. 

Officials are trying to cut their budget by over $5 million, which is nearly seven percent.

"Trying to cut $5.2 million out of a budget, basically it's unreasonable," said Michael Graner, Groton's superintendent of schools.

"I understand that the state is in real financial straights," he added, "but to spring this on towns, all in one year, all in one shot, and to do it exclusively, almost exclusively through education cuts, without a phase-in period, just seems irresponsible."

If the cuts go through, about 35 teachers would lose their job. Class sizes would also go up, especially at the high school, Graner said.

The cuts are part of Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed education budget, which was created using a new way to calculate student-need. Most towns are expecting less money from the state next year, but Groton is facing the largest cut of all, in terms of dollar amount. And some similar districts, like Middletown and Stratford, are getting millions more from the state. 

"It doesn't add up," Graner said. "When you start to list some of the reductions we're gonna have to make, I think everyone's gonna agree it's simply not acceptable."

Even with these cuts, the town is still preparing to hike taxes by over 15 percent. Groton officials pointed to a tension in town between some who want to keep taxes low, and families who want to keep the schools strong. The town's mayor, Bruce Flax, said there's other areas where they could see some savings.

"We also have three police departments in Groton, three public works departments in Groton, and now's the time that we need to look at these things and try and create efficiency," Flax said.

The town leaders have been working with state legislators to reduce the state cut to a manageable level.