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Community forum: ACSD school official responds to union

Peter Conlon is chairman of the Addison Central School District board of directors.
The Addison Central Education Association has raised concerns about the potential for a reduction in force for the Addison Central School District — cutting positions — as a result of the budget the board adopted in January and will be voted on Town Meeting Day. The ACSD board does not make decisions to reduce positions without careful consideration of a number of important factors.
The board has the difficult task of balancing a desire to maintain programs, meet the educational needs of our students, address declining enrollment in our schools and fulfill our responsibility to use public tax dollars in a responsible manner. This year, that means hard decisions must be made, like a reduction in the number of teaching positions that is commensurate with the decline in the number of students.
The agreement calls for the board to give notice of and an explanation for the cuts before a final decision is made. The union may then ask to meet with the board to discuss the proposed reductions. Afterward, the board takes a final vote on the issue. The teachers’ union has expressed a concern that the school board has not consulted them before making decisions about what positions will be affected. The union members can be assured that we will follow the process in the union collective bargaining agreement for position cuts. ACEA has been notified, and when the union meets with us, we will approach that meeting with open minds.
This year, the reduction-in-force notice letter to the union was sent later than we would have preferred. The board and administration were in the process of learning which of our current teachers would take early retirement, the deadline for which was Feb. 1, before sending the notification letter so we would not unnecessarily alarm some teachers.
We value our teachers and understand the reaction cutbacks can cause. The board will listen to any suggestions while recognizing that we have fewer students and an obligation to use the public’s money wisely.

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