GROTON — Prior to Town Meeting and preparing for the worst, Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Superintendent Alan Genovese admitted last week that he has sent “notifications” to a number of administration officials, including Florence Roche Elementary School principal Ruthann Goguen, that their jobs could be on the chopping block should a proposed override measure be failed by residents.

Genovese made the comments after the issue was raised by Christopher Clinton, who is running for a position on the School Committee. Clinton wanted to know if rumors of Goguen’s being laid off were true.

“Is this an actual plan?” Clinton wanted to know. “Is this news to the School Committee? Or is it only a rumor?”

Clinton said that he had heard rumors that Goguen had been laid off and that the district’s two elementary schools would be sharing a single principal and perhaps an assistant principal.

Referring to a number of controversial resignations earlier in Genovese’ term as superintendent, Clinton remarked that he would not “want to see the bus lose another wheel” as a result of more departures among administrators.

In reply, Genovese said that although thought is being given to reducing the number of administrators, no one, including Goguen, has so far been laid off.

“It’s one of many ideas being considered,” Genovese said.

Declining enrollment at Groton-Dunstable had already made possible the closure of a third elementary school and consolidation of students at Florence Roche and Swallow Union. If Goguen were laid off, the elementary schools would still retain the services of one principal and one assistant principal who could divide their time between the two buildings.

According to the superintendent, layoffs among the district’s administrators is being seriously considered in the event of a “worst case scenario” involving rejection of a proposed override measure being proposed to residents.

The override of $1,448,726 represents the amount of money needed by the district to make up a shortfall in its fiscal 2011 budget. Should residents of Groton or Dunstable reject it, further cuts in school spending will have to be considered, among them reductions in administrative staff.

Genovese said that he had no choice but to take into account the fact that the override may not be approved and to plan accordingly. In order to be in a position to effect layoffs for next year, the groundwork had to be laid immediately in the form of notifications of potential layoffs to those administrators whose jobs will be in jeopardy.

“At this point in time,” said Genovese, “I can’t guarantee their positions.”

Genovese told Clinton that in addition to Goguen, there were many other administrative positions in danger of being eliminated as the district restructures itself and enacts “systemic changes” in accordance with fiscal realities.

“It will be unfortunate if this becomes a panic button issue,” said Genovese of fears by the public over the notifications. “I’m meeting a deadline obligation. I’m just planning for the worst.”

The superintendent emphasized more than once that although Goguen is not alone on the list of those who have received notifications with more to come, no decision had been made about going forward with layoffs.

Genovese stressed that any decision to layoff employees would not be made without the input from his replacement as superintendent, Joseph Mastrocola, who will be the one to run the district with a reduced workforce.

“There’s a lot of scary things we’re considering if the override is not passed,” said committee Chairman James Frey, suggesting that there could be as many as 30 layoffs when all was said and done. “But it’s premature to jump to any conclusions at this time.”

“But nothing is off the table,” said Genovese.

Providing a dash of cold water to the proceedings, departing committee member Peter Carson reminded everyone at last week’s meeting that even if the override passed this year and the jobs are saved, it would represent only a temporary reprieve. With salaries and costs rising and no new revenue expected in the future, the School Committee would find itself in exactly the same position next year and the year after that. Sooner or later, the district will have to make the painful decision it was currently being confronted with.

For those reasons and the uncertainty surrounding Goguen’s surprise announcement of her having received a notification of a possible layoff, Clinton said that the administration should communicate better with the public especially on an issue like layoffs. News such as that should come from “the top down” and not “the bottom up.”

Genovese agreed but cautioned that there were some issues in the very earliest stages of discussion between himself and other administrators that were not ready for public consumption. If those issues still managed to find their way into local media or into the rumor mill, it was not the fault of the administration.

“The community must be patient,” said Genovese.

“We do recognize that communications must be open,” said Frey in way of acknowledging the problem.