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WARREN Schools chief recommends three closings



Published: Sat, February 15, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The closings would mean the layoffs of 88 district employees, including teachers and others.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- To stave off a looming deficit, city schools Superintendent Betty English is recommending that Devon and Roosevelt elementary schools be closed next year and a third elementary building be closed the following year.

Which elementary school would close the second year will be determined based on enrollment and other factors. English laid out the plan for school board members at a meeting Tuesday.

Under the school district's current five-year forecast, the district would see a $4.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2005. That deficit would swell to $26.5 million in 2007.

"This administration and this school board will not allow the district to go into fiscal emergency or fiscal watch," English said.

Under the plan recommended by English, the deficit won't occur until 2007. English said the district will work to address that deficit as well.

The superintendent pointed to a loss of enrollment throughout the district, which also means a loss of funding from the state, money being diverted to charter and community schools, skyrocketing health, fleet, property and liability insurance costs as reasons the district is facing a deficit.

Changes made

The district already has made some changes in an effort to save money. Contracts recently approved with teachers and other school employees changed the health-care plan to save the district money.

Gordon Hazen, supervisor of student and community services, said that with 147 pupils, Devon has the district's smallest enrollment. Roosevelt, built in 1917, is one of the district's oldest buildings.

Kindergarten through first-graders who attend Devon will go to Lincoln Elementary next year while Devon's second- through fourth-raders will attend Garfield next year.

Roosevelt's pupils will be divided among McGuffey, Emerson and Secrest elementary schools. Some of the pupils who now attend Emerson will attend Alden next year instead.

"This will give us a 20- to 21-student elementary class size across the district," Hazen said.

Elementary classes accommodate between 18 and 19 pupils this year.

Layoffs loom

The plan also means that 43 teachers and administrators and 45 other school employees will lose their jobs. Layoffs will be done according to seniority.

The administration informed board members of the looming problem late last year, and board members told the administration to prioritize.

Lynn Gibson, board president, said the administration did a good job of doing that.

The board didn't vote on the recommendation Tuesday. Gibson said board members want to give the public the opportunity to ask questions before the board votes.




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