The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has voted to abolish 30 staff positions effective with the start of the 2020-21 school year. Of the 30 positions being eliminated, 17 will be accomplished through retirements and 13 will be accomplished through the non-renewal of current staff members.
During a meeting on April 27, board members adopted a budget for the 2020-21 school year that includes a $6 million reduction in state aid from 2019-20. District administrators said the reduction in state aid was a factor in the reduction to the district’s roster of employees.
Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson said some or all of the 13 teachers whose contracts were not renewed for 2020-21 could be rehired during the summer if additional employees retire or leave the district prior to the start of the new school year.
“We have made a number of difficult staffing decisions,” Sampson said. “In the midst of this (coronavirus) pandemic, the impact of S-2 has been lost a bit.”
S-2 refers to state legislation that was signed into law in 2018 and determines state funding to New Jersey’s school districts. The district began to see a reduction in its state aid prior to the 2018-19 school year and the reduction is scheduled to continue through the 2024-25 school year.
Board member Diana Cappiello of Englishtown voted “no” on the motion to abolish the positions. Board members Carl Accettola, Heshy Moses, Elizabeth Higley, Jennifer Sutera, Marc Parisi, Peter Bruno, Michael Messinger and Kathie Lavin voted “yes.”
“Because of the political garbage in this state, we have to RIF (reduce in force) over 30 people. It’s not about kids anymore. It’s about people getting elected,” said Moses, who taught and coached in the district for decades.
Comments from students and other members of the public that were read into the record of the meeting by the board’s attorney, Mark G. Toscano, asked the board to retain specific teachers who are being let go; lamented the larger class sizes that will result from the reduction in force; expressed regret for all the reductions in staff; and praised the teachers who are losing their jobs for their commitment to the district’s students.
A resolution listed in the meeting agenda said state law “provides that a board of education may ‘reduce the number of teaching staff members employed in the district whenever in the judgment of the board it is advisable to abolish any such positions for reasons of economy or because of reduction in the number of pupils or of change in the administrative or supervisory organization of the district or for other good cause.’ ”
District administrators have said enrollment has been declining by about 1% per year. Enrollment in the district’s six high schools currently stands at about 10,570 students.
The resolution stated that “for reasons of economy and staffing needs in light of student enrollment and scheduling, the following full time-equivalent positions are recommended for abolishment” – one full-time academic supervisor position; one full-time business teaching position; one part-time business teaching position; three full-time English teaching positions;
And, one full-time family and consumer science teaching position; three full-time health and physical education teaching positions; two full-time mathematics teaching positions; one full-time social studies teaching position; four full-time science teaching positions;
Also, eight full-time special education teaching positions; one full-time technology education teaching position; two full-time world language teaching positions (Spanish); one part-time world language teaching position (Latin); one part-time world language teaching position (French);
And, one full-time educational interpreter-sign language interpreting educational services position; and one full-time teacher coach-educational technology integration and application teaching position.
Sampson said the Freehold Regional High School District has about 1,300 employees, which makes it the fourth or fifth largest employer in Monmouth County. About 900 employees are teachers.
The district is educating students at a cost of about $14,417 per pupil, according to the budget presentation.
The superintendent said seven administrative positions have been eliminated during the past nine years and he said, “We are low in terms of administrative costs. This is a big place and you need folks to run it.”