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May 2, 2017

In a special meeting of the Board of Education on Monday, 4/24, members discussed a rare staffing situation. Due to decreased student interest, a high school teaching position needs to be eliminated. The district has a long-standing policy of turning to seniority ranking “last in, first out” in determining dismissals that are due to reduction in staff and are not related to performance. The Board debate in this matter stemmed from the fact that the affected department’s last two teachers “in” were hired on the same day.

Given that there is no record of this situation occurring in the district in the past, there isn’t a precedence for deciding the matter. In an effort to most fairly determine the correct position to eliminate, Dr. Alicia Roy proposed that seniority be determined by the date that she offered the then-candidates their positions. Board members discussed whether this plan would be appropriate, or if a counter-signed offer should be the determining factor. To further complicate matters, the person who was offered the position last signed their contract first, and consequently is working with union representatives on a potential grievance over the proposed seniority determination.

Under CT State Code, Section 10-151, the Board needed to approve a course of action before a letter declining to renew the teacher’s contract is issued. To meet state guidelines, all letters declining contract renewal must be sent by May 1. Board members landed on both sides of the issue and briefly discussed alternative motions that could be made, but ultimately voted to approve Dr. Roy’s proposal for determining the appropriate person. Four members voted for the proposal: Mr. Steve Burfeind, Dr. Jay Voss, Mr. Douglas DeRito, and Mr. Ed Sbordone; Dr. Amy Tozzo and Ms. Samantha Mannion both abstained.

Though personnel matters involving performance are handled in the BOE’s private Executive Sessions, discussions regarding particular situations surrounding staff reduction are held in public meetings. The Board of Education’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 4, 7:00 pm.

By Sarah Opdahl