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Westport Teachers Worried About Cutbacks

Updated 2:30 p.m.: Fears that the Westport education budget will be significantly reduced have prompted the non-renewal of 178 teacher contracts for the 2011-12 school year. Kathy Sharp, president of the Westport Educational Association, said this decision is a concern to all Westport teachers.

"I do want you to know, when the teachers, the non-tenured teachers, received these letters, it really had a devastating impact on both the non-tenured teachers and the tenured teachers in our district," said Sharp, who’s also a teacher at Staples. She was referring to letters sent by Superintendent Elliott Landon to non-tenured teachers saying he would recommend the Board of Education not renew their contracts.

On Monday night, the board voted 6-1 not to renew contacts for 144 non-tenured teachers, 10 long-term substitutes and 24 permanent building substitutes. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that lay-offs are definite.

Every year, Landon said, the contracts for long-term substitutes and permanent building substitutes are not renewed, in accordance with a state statute. And because of a number of factors, Landon said he asked the board to include non-tenured teachers on the list this year.

"In the last few years, we've made some substantial cutbacks to our staffing and we have had, over the last few years, a significant number of retirements," Landon said. "This year, we have virtually no retirements pending, and we have no idea what our final budget allocation will be after the Board of Finance takes its actions, followed by the [Representative Town Meeting] doing the same. And so, to preserve our options, I have asked the board this year to include our non-tenured teachers on the list in the event that it becomes necessary, through further budgetary actions, to reduce programs and thus, staff."

The Board of Finance will review the Board of Education's proposed $98.3 million budget on Thursday in the Town Hall auditorium starting at 7:30 p.m.

You can read more about teacher pay/cutbacks

Read what other Fairfield County towns are doing about education spending. Click on the headline:

Budget Cuts May Limit Teachers in Fairfield

Wilton Teachers Begin Talks With School Board

Greenwich To Start Teacher Contract Talks Soon

*(This story was updated to clarify the fact that the non-renewal of contracts doesn't guarantee lay-offs)

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