Laconia to lay off two teachers to stay within tax cap

LACONIA  — Superintendent of Schools Terri Forsten said yesterday that the Laconia School Board needs to reduce its proposed budget by about $300,000 to satisfy the terms of the city's tax cap of $36.3-million.

To do that she said two teachers have been laid off and the district is potentially looking at not replacing some retiring employees.

The School Board had been slated to present their 2014-2015 budget to the City Council on April 28. City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday the School District's new presentation date is May 27.

Members had scheduled a vote on the entire $36.6-million budget at their meeting last Tuesday. However, they delayed the vote without discussion. When asked why, Budget and Personnel Committee Chair Scott Vachon said the committee hadn't had the opportunity to review the final details of the proposed budget. After a non-public session, the board apparently agreed to lay off two employees.

Forsten said in years past the district has been able to save some money by not replacing some elementary school teachers as they retire because of dwindling school enrollments. However, she said in the past two years, the district has seen an increase in enrollment at the kindergarten and first grade levels and can no longer eliminate elementary school teacher positions through retirement and attrition.

Forsten also said at this point in time, the district doesn't know how many new kindergarten students there will be in August.

She said the administrators will also eye moving around some programs to get better use out of their existing resources and that could involve asking some teachers to teach different classes than they now teach.

She said it's only fair to the teachers to discuss this as soon as decisions are made in order to give them time to prepare.

Forsten said they are also seeing some other shifts and, despite two resignations, will maintain the current level of guidance counselors. She said the district is also hoping to add a world languages teacher at the Laconia Middle School.