Trenton school layoffs

March 24, 2009 3:03:50 PM PDT
The struggling economy is taking a toll on Trenton's schools. The district has announced that next fall more than 400 employees will be laid off. Nearly half of them are teachers.Trenton school superintendent Rodney Lofton says the layoffs will include 177 program workers, since the cafeteria is going private and almost 200 teachers, special education instructors, classroom aides and other certified professionals.

The layoffs are the result, he says, of shifting enrollments, staffing reorganization, and a $283-million budget that's remained flat for 2 years and will likely stay the same next year.

"As a result of that with the increase in salaries, the increase in health care, the increase in basic fixed costs like oil, gas, heat, those kinds of things it only meant that our budget actually decreased," Lofton said.

"If they make those cuts it's gonna have a dramatic, if not draconian effect," said Joseph Santo of the Trenton Education Association.

The head of the teachers' union predicts the cuts will result in larger class sizes and the use of more substitutes.

"How can you cut people who give services to the children and then expect this district to move forward," Santo said.

"We have over 105 administrators in this district and administrations not being affected at all by these layoffs," said Naomi Johnson-LaFleur of the Trenton Education Association.

Outside Grant Elementary School parents learning of the layoffs wondered what they will mean for students, especially those who require extra help.

"These teachers are like great with the kids but if they lay these teachers off it's gonna be a lot of kids that hurt," said Mattie Magby.

Lofton says he has promissory notes for over $10-million in federal funds that might offset some layoffs, but without the money in hand that can't be included in the budget.

Lofton says if that money comes through he will do everything he can to hire back as many teachers as possible.

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