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Wilton Superintendent Warns of Teacher Cuts

Wilton public schools may have to cut 40 to 50 teachers — that was the gut-wrenching proclamation Superintendent Gary Richards made at the the Board of Education's budget workshop Thursday.

"If you have to cut $2 (million) to $3 million, I don't know how else you do that," Richards said of the budget. The Board of Finance has pushed a 0.8 percent increase for the 2011-12 school year in early budget talks. Richards said that with that amount, the district would have no choice but to cut personnel.

The Board of Education members were in disbelief that the number would be that high, but Richards assured them the schools have already cut or pushed back in other areas.

Cider Mill School students have seen the effects from the cut of paraprofessionals, specifically one that had helped Kevin Meehan, the head of the science department. Cider Mill Principal Ginny Rico said Meehan has shortened or canceled projects because he does not have an assistant. She said volunteers and other paraprofessionals have not been able to fill the void because it is inconsistent.

If the district cuts 40 to 50 teachers, class sizes would jump from 20 to 22 students up to 25 to 26 students in the elementary and middle schools. According to Richards, that would be allowed under the district's policy but said it is not the normal practice.

Richards is requesting a 5.9 percent budget increase from the Board of Finance. A public hearing on his budget request is set for Jan. 20.

The Board of Education plans to meet with Richards about his proposed budget again next Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m.

Are you concerned about teacher cuts in the Wilton schools? Are you willing to pay higher taxes to save the positions? Leave a comment below.

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