Andover public schools would still need to cut as many as 34 full-time teaching positions while cutting non-salary spending by nearly 6 percent to close a $2.7 million budget gap under a proposal presented to the school committee last week.
“Our goal as an administration is to really try to maintain reasonable class sizes and to be more in the middle range for the intermediate grades in the middle range of the school committee policy,” Superintendent Magda Parvey told the school committee. “And when we look at our younger grades…[we’re] really looking to stay at the lower end as much as possible if it is feasible based on the work that we need to do.”
The overflow meeting had parents and teachers listening to proceedings in the hallway, and Chair Tracey Spruce frequently reminded speakers to be respectful. You can read an AI-generated transcript of the nearly three-hour-long meeting.
The school committee and administration have cited a 12 percent enrollment decline over the past bdecade as the reason it is considering the cuts. The Andover Eeucation Association, which represents the district’s unionized teachers and instructional assistants, urged its members to attend Thursday’s meeting.
Kerry Costello, a counselor at Andover High School, said she follows the budget process closely each year. She said staff cut during a similar deficit in 2011 were never hired back, and worried the same would happen with the teachers slated to be cut under this budget.
“The town has been systematically dis-investing in the schools through the budgets since 2017,” Costello said.
The proposal also includes a modest tuition increase for Shawsheen Preschool, although the impact of that move would be negligible on the deficit. The proposal, which drew teachers and parents to Thursday’s meeting to protest the staffing cuts, would not, however, impact student fees for extracurricular activities and bus transportation.
The school committee is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget on March 7. Annual Town Meeting will have final say on the budget in April.