Night Teacher Conferences Could be Lost if School Cuts are Necessary

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The School Committee has asked for $1 million to be added to the $2.26 million increase proposed by Town Manager Michael Driscoll, but if that is not approved Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald said savings will have to be found.

No decisions for how to cut the budget have been finalized, but when asked during a recent School Committee meeting, Fitzgerald said some non-teaching open positions would likely have to remain open, other items would have to be done without, and savings in salary would have to be made. One possibility, she said, is doing away with evening parent-teacher conferences.

That would save $20,000 because is paid to teachers for having to work at night.

“We would still have conferences,” Fitzgerald said. “We would have phone conferences or parents would come in during the day.”

The suggestion was not popular with parents at the meeting.

“In a working class town like Watertown people can’t come to conferences during the day,” said parent Candace Miller. “How many parents are not going to go to conferences.”

Other parents said the parent-teacher conferences are the only time that some parents visit the school and teachers can address concerns about their children face-to-face.

The School Committee asked for a $6 million increase from the Fiscal 2014 budget, but the amount Town Manager Michael Driscoll provided $2.26 million in his budget, along with $960,000 in one-time funds that will not be a part of the base school budget.

Miller said she is frustrated that the Council has not supported adding more to the budget to fully fund it.

“The no nighttime conferences is one thing the Town Council has forced us into,” Miller said.

The $1 million request would go to cover special education costs and hire 5 to 6 teachers to help reduce class sizes (see more details by clicking here).

The Town Council will vote on the budget Tuesday, June 10 at their meeting, which begins at 7:15 p.m.

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