By Hiroko Sato
GROTON — Three and half months after voters rejected a $1.23 million tax override to pay for education, Groton-Dunstable schools will welcome back its students Sept. 1 with far fewer teachers.
But the students will still see many teachers who they know. That’s because the district was able to call back pink-slipped teachers to fill the positions vacated by the retirements announced over the summer, according to Superintendent Joseph Mastrocola.
The failed override was initially expected to result in the layoffs of 27 school workers, including 13 classroom teachers. The School Committee restored eight of the teaching positions in early June, however, by accepting Mastrocola’s plan to eliminate $294,423 worth of line items from the original budget to call back some teachers. Those items included the position of coordinator of curriculum, instruction technology and library media services, which has an annual salary of $77,000. Mastrocola also kept the Florence Roche Elementary School principal position intact — the position that was expected to be consolidated with the Swallow Union Elementary School principal job under the fiscal 2010 budget — by not filling the vacant assistant principal seat at Florence Roche.
Mastrocola said that some teachers decided to retire over the summer, and that reduced the number of laid-off teachers to eight. In the end, the District lost 18 full-time-equivalent positions between teaching and other types of jobs. The number of students per class ranges from low- to high-20s in elementary schools, and can be higher in some middle- and high-school classes, he said. Mastrocola said reducing class size without costing taxpayers more money is one of his goals.