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Feb 6, 2009

Boston Schools May Slash 900 Jobs

Hundreds of Boston school teachers could be out of a job if the city school department follows through with a plan to make drastic budget cuts.

The district may slash 900 jobs, and more than 400 would be teaching positions. Several schools may also be closed.

Superintendent Carol Johnson announced her preliminary budget plan Wednesday night as hundreds of school students and their parents protested at the district's school committee meeting.

The cuts would affect the 2009-2010 school year and are aimed at closing a $107 million budget gap.

"There are two basic problems: we have reductions in our revenue and increases in our expenditures," Johnson said.

The protesters told the committee to try to find another way.

"We live in a society that pushes our children to thrive and fight and get a good education, yet every single year this society takes more and more away from our education," Boston Latin senior Mariel Jane Bastien said.

"Music is almost our last resort in our school. We've already had almost everything else stripped away from us," another student told the panel.

There was also frustration over the school programs that are also at risk. There was a move to convince the district's unionized teachers to take a one-year wage freeze to save jobs.

"The wage freeze would go a long way to solving the problem for over 400 staff, and over 330 of them are classroom teachers," Johnson said.

But the union did not seem receptive to the idea.

"We don't see this as a wage freeze issue. We don't see it as a spending issue. It's a revenue issue," said Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman.

"I ask all the other unions to have the courage to stand up and help us solve this problem," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said.

There was also talk of restructuring the district to try to get control of escalating busing costs. The public will have a say in the first of a series of public hearings at Blackstone Elementary School in South Boston.

Meanwhile in Lynn, the teachers union is set to vote on whether or not to accept a furlough day in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year in a move that could save more than 100 jobs, the Lynn Daily Item reported.

By taking a furlough day, teachers would agree to work one day without pay or receive one day off without pay to help cover a $1 million reduction in the district's education budget.
Source : Boston Channel
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