LYNN - Two elementary schools will close after today as part of sweeping cuts to school spending that includes laying off about 100 teachers, officials said.
The closing of The William R. Fallon Elementary School and Washington Community School will reduce the number of Lynn elementary schools to 16, as the North Shore district struggles to balance higher costs, particularly for health insurance, against limited revenue growth.
"We just don't have the money," Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. said late yesterday. "We did the best we could to fund our schools."
The children at the two schools will get out three days early.
The city increased spending for the 14,000-student urban school district by about $503,000 for the fiscal year that starts July 1. But the district would have needed $6 million to $7 million to maintain the current level of staffing and services, Clancy said.
"We had to make some difficult choices," Clancy said, adding that the district has left many jobs unfilled since January. "With what we were faced with, I think we've managed it well."
As many as 160 jobs, including administrative and clerical positions, are due to be cut. Teachers will be hit hardest, with more than 100 layoff notices sent out last Friday, a union official said. The number may be lower, depending on other factors, including how many other teachers retire or get jobs in other school districts.
"It's an awful, awful time," said Alice Gunning, president of the Lynn Teachers Union, Local 1037 of the American Federation of Teachers. "A lot of our new, young teachers are getting pink slips."
Gunning estimated the final number of layoffs at 91 but said the exact number might not be known until school ends Friday.
"We do have some angry members," Gunning said.
"I do wish the city could have come up with some money for us, but I'm sure every department would say that."
Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.