Board votes against reassigning 53 teaching positions in New Haven

NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – Critics of a controversial cost cutting program, which would have forced 53 New Haven teachers to accept forced reassignments, have scored a major victory.

After months of pressure, the Board of Education pulled the plug on the plan.

Superintendent Dr. Carol D. Birks wanted to reassign dozens of teachers to fill other openings.

However, the New Haven school board slapped down the proposal.

The move would have saved the district nearly $4 million a year, but critics felt it would harm students.

"We should not be balancing the budget on the backs of the teachers and the students. The fact is that without teachers and students we don’t have a school system," said Darnell Goldson, BOE President.

Some of the educators, who were among the group of 53 teachers, said they are happy the board supported them, but the scars from how this situation was handled won’t fade anytime soon.

"It’s frustrating. It’s undignifying, it’s disrespectful, it’s frustrating," said Angie Catalano, Hillhouse High School teacher.

The frustration boiled over as many people in the crowd argued the architect of the proposal, Dr. Birks, should pay for the failed plan with her job.

But Dr. Birks defends the plan because of New Haven’s dire budget situation, a $30 million shortfall.

"Change is hard for people and I understand there’s a lot of emotions, like when you run a complex organization, there are some difficult decisions that we have to make," Birks said.

Dr. Birk said the board will need to find cost cutting measures as quickly as possible because of the shortfall.

"School starts very soon again. It’ll be August before you know it. So, I just think that as a team we need to work together for the benefit of our children," Birks said.

After hearing from the public during the last one two weeks ago, the board decided to push back its decision.

New Haven students who spoke at the last meeting said they felt the proposal moves excellent teachers from positions where they’ve thrived.

The board says they are still searching for others ways to cut costs, but they didn’t present any at Monday night’s meeting.

WFSB file

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