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Hillsboro-Deering district gives 24 employees notice of possible reduction in staff

Ten percent of the teachers and 20 percent of the support staff in Hillsboro-Deering School District received notice Friday that a reduction in force is being considered in response to budget cuts approved by voters at last week’s district meeting.

Last night, after nearly an hour-long nonpublic meeting, the school board postponed any decisions on the budget because one member was absent and the teachers union requested time to prepare and present alternatives to layoffs. They scheduled a special board meeting for next Tuesday.

“I hope everyone can understand this is a very trying time for all of us,” said board member Nancy Egner Denu. “We’re going to try our utmost to make this a comprehensive process and not compromise the good work that’s been done to this point.”

Last Tuesday, voters in the district approved by a 602-526 vote, a 2014-15 budget of $19,662,098, $35,000 less than the current operating budget and $1 million less than the school board and administration requested at the deliberative session last month.

Much of the requested increase was due to what Superintendent Robert Hassett called non-negotiable increases.

The largest single increase in his proposal was $252,529 in payments to the New Hampshire Retirement System, the result of the state government reducing its share last year.

His proposal also included $225,254 for an English teacher, contracted pay increases for teachers moving up the pay scale and a basketball program at Hillsboro-Deering Middle School, as well as a $121,667 increase for rising health insurance premiums and $153,000 for new computer equipment and books.

More than 50 parents, teachers and staff attended the board meeting last night, where “budget actions” were listed on the agenda.

“I do not think anybody in this room or anybody who voted on the budget last week meant to have our staff eliminated,” Hillsboro resident Laurel Woolner said. “We’re finally getting to a point where we can be proud of our school district again,” she said, referring to the district’s designation several years ago as one of the five poorest-performing in the state.

At the time, the state average on an index of mandated test scores was 156 points; Hillsboro-Deering earned 129, according to Merry Fortier at the Department of Education. Last year, Fortier said, the state average was 157, and Hillsboro-Deering earned 151.

Former board member John Segedy and resident Leigh Bosse, who both advocated for the lower budget before the vote, also urged the board to consider cuts other than staff layoffs.

“This is not a million-dollar problem,” Bosse said. “I’ve said in the past that you have too many teachers, but not 10 percent too many.”

The notices distributed to 12 teachers and 12 support staff members were not announcing a reduction in force, but informing the staff that one is being considered, a requirement of the staff contracts with the district. But in the light of the vote Tuesday, some teachers had already sent out resumes before the notices were distributed Friday, said Heidi Welch, a teacher at the high school.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

Legacy Comments11

No layoffs are necessary! This is just a fear-mongoring ploy. Budget is actually about $500,000 more than actually spent last year after Board spent about $200,000 of surplus in June. Simply holding spending to last years levels would allow enough to cover any mandated increases. In addition numerous other cost saving ideas have been suggested. Will the administration cut staff - probably - but not because they have to, but because if they don't they wil appear to admit that they were wrong in the first place for asking for the increase.

I have a sibling that teaches at Concord High. Concord High has a directive that any student on a class roster will receive a minimum of a 40% per trimester, if they show up or not. Teachers are instructed to pass a student regardless of work done, social promotions are the rule. When I was in school, you passed the work or you repeated it, period. This is one area where teachers are given no choice, this are strictly administrative rules to make the numbers look better. You must remember - teachers don't run the school, administrators do, but they are never on the firing line. It's always blame the teachers union. We really need a reality check for the sake of accuracy and fairness.

a curious mind would know the % of Administrators that are former teachers.....the answer is akin to ...the fox guarding the hen house

You three are obviously not from Hillsborough. In Hillsborough there is no last in-first out union provision anymore. Again the "low performers" comment is so without merit that my response is unprintable. It boils down to $$$ alone when deciding who to keep and let go. Why keep expensive teachers when you can cut costs with first year ones. After all, it's about the money - experience be damned. Furthermore, the supporters of the cuts were targeting high administrative costs they face. Some of the most outspoken supporters of the cuts are furious about the layoffs. To add insult to injury, our State leaders have cut state spending by simply pushing it back to the local districts to the tune of $252,529 in Hillsborough's case.

Mauser, when did the union drop the last in, first out provision? Did they also drop the provision about giving teachers who have been laid off first crack when rehiring? Just asking Experience, which I assume you refer to as how long someone has worked in a position, does not always equate with a good performance.

Both of the things that you refer to haven't existed for 2 years as a contract concession. As far as your experience comment goes, the same thing goes in the private sector. Longevity doesn't automatically mean good performance, but it also doesn't mean bad performance by default either. There is more to this story than teachers salaries, that just hasn't been reported. As far as specifics and details goes, this story barely scratches the surfaces. One only has to take a look at the SAU budget on it's own, not the overall school budget. Talk about padded salaries.

Results and performance count in the private sector Mauser.The company depends on employees that work as a team and get results. An idea that goes against what unions promote. That is why unions are on the decline in this country. And Sail is right. The last hired goes first in a on. That pretty much eliminates the youngest and the just out of college teachers. The unions also hire back the teachers laid off before considering new hires. That is why tenure is a bad thing. It is based on how long you have worked not your performance.

Does any reader think that the 10% cut will be the worst teachers? - OR - do you think the Teachers Union will protect them and axe the newest vibrant teachers first?

In the absence of any facts in your post, contrary to popular opinion, seniority is not guarantee in Hillsboro. A teacher at the top of the pay scale is no safer than someone at the bottom. I find your "..newest vibrant teachers first.." comment to be truly insulting. Age should not even be a consideration. I am guessing that experience only counts in the private sector, eh?

The article says ""district gives 24 employees notice", doesn't sound like a lot of discussion or evaluations were done as to who are the low performers. Therefore I'm betting on "Sail's" answer. Lets see the names and their seniority dates.

For the record, my friend has 15 years of experience and not a single blemish on their record/yearly "non union " performance reviews. Just why would their names help - you from Hillsboro?????????????

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