No longer buoyed by millions in extra federal education dollars, the Malden School Committee expects to cut 37 positions from the school payroll this year, school officials said.
The list includes 23 teachers, 11 paraprofessionals, two technical support staffers, and one secretary, and are the result of five weeks of tumultuous discussion to bridge a nearly $1.5 million budget gap.
"This is the first real layoff of any significance that we've had in the last five years, and it’s obviously budgetary," said Marguerite Gonsalves, president of the Malden Education Association, the union that represents about 730 employees.
"Malden did anything we could to keep our teachers afloat and our schools well-staffed with quality teachers for an urban area," Gonsalves said.
Teachers who remain, if they have reached a certain experience level, will receive 1 percentage point raises for three years, two of them retroactive, starting July 1 as part of the contract that expires in July 2013, Gonsalves said. In exchange, the union agreed to incorporate a wellness plan into its health coverage that adds incentives for employees to remain fit and illness-free.
In his budget proposal for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, Mayor Gary Christenson set $56.2 million for schools out of a $152.8 million total city budget. The mayor cited “the expiration of federal stimulus funding and contractual salary increases due in fiscal year 2013” in his budget proposal to the City Council.
The layoffs will probably hit Malden High School the hardest, said Adam Weldai,a Ward 1 School Committee member.
The science, mathematics, English, and history departments will each lose one leader-teacher, who taught fewer courses and helped mentor and coach other teachers in their subjects. The school's business teacher also will be laid off, Weldai said.
As a member of the subcommittee tasked with structuring some of the cuts over weeks of meetings, Weldai said the district was careful not to touch staff or resources for the city's system of K-8 schools, which are bursting with students.
Other cuts will come to the special-education department, Weldai said.
Federal funding accounted for about $2.85 million in extra cash infused over the last two years, a money source that has dried up.
"I think when we took this federal money, people thought the economy would be in a better place, and surprise, it's not," Weldai said. "The high school has been pretty sustained; it hasn't been hit in the last couple of years."
"No one likes to see cuts go into a budget," said Superintendent David DiRuosi at a School Committee meeting Monday. 6/4“But this district in less than five weeks balanced the budget. I am proud of a district that can come together with their differences, but with one major focus: Keep class sizes small enough so teachers can teach."