Hillsborough schools lay off 37 teachers, staff after failed referendum
HILLSBOROUGH — The township Board of Education followed through on the budget cuts that officials had warned would happen if voters didn't approve a referendum in March. The school board on Monday eliminated 50 positions and fired 37 teachers and employees.
Voters had rejected the the $8 million question by a 60-40 vote. School officials blamed rising health costs while seeking to fund full-day kindergarten.
District that seek to raise their budgets by more than 2% have to seek voter approval during the annual school board election in November. But this district faced criticism for trying to plug a budget hole during a separate referendum in March.
"Our community spoke decisively not to raise taxes, and we appreciate and respect the outcome of the referendum," the district said in a statement after the vote.
Superintendent Jordan Schiff said a $5 million shortfall in the $130 million budget was created by the depletion of a district budget surplus, a reduction in state aid and the end of a healthcare waiver.
During his budget presentation, Schiff said no one should be surprised by the cuts as the district was upfront about the "consequences of a failed referendum." Schiff said the possibility of cuts were spelled out by the board in an explanatory statement sent to every voter.
Schiff said technology and building use fees will be increased, resulting in an estimated $600,000 in revenue. Courtesy busing also will be decreased. Combined with an $800,000 reduction in expenditures, 18 positions were saved, Schiff said.
Staff was informed of the cuts last week resulting in tenured teachers bumping out non-tenured teachers.
The 37 people represent "people who have worked extraordinarily hard for the district, have dedicated themselves to the children and to their profession and it is a sad thing that we're going to be saying goodbye to so many good quality people who through no fault of their own will not have a position in our district next year," Schiff said.
Assistance will be offered to staff who lost their jobs, including a job fair with 20 districts scheduled to attend.
Staff-reduction break down:
- Elementary: 18
- District: 12
- High School: 10
- Middle School: 6
- Aris: 5.5
- Buildings and grounds: 2
Schiff said no fine arts programs, athletics, club offerings or world language programs were cut and janitorial services were not privatized.
Several positions were also added, including a full-time nurse and three special education positions.
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