Groton officials discuss major budget cuts to schools

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH)–They were standing in the back, in the aisles along the walls, a lot on the line as the Groton council decided on next year’s budget.

They were going to cut $5.2 million in education, which means they would not only have to close an elementary school and layoff 20-plus teachers and staff members, but Dr. Mike Graner Superintendent of schools went before the board to try to avoid more layoffs in other schools.

“The layoffs to about 25 more teachers in addition to what would unfortunately have to be laid off, but at least that would provide us a stable platform moving forward,” Graner said.

So the superintendent and the teachers and the parents all crowded the room to let the town council know how important their decision was. Social studies teacher Karley Reising is concerned about the future of Groton education.

“Obviously we are nervous for our jobs, but more importantly I’m nervous for my students, these cuts,” Reising said. “While Groton education will do the absolute best with what they can, these cuts are really going to hurt students chances to be the best that they can.”

In the end the budget did cut 40-plus teachers and staff members as well as middle school sports, but kept the taxes from going up more than 5%. Mayor Bruce Flax says it’s a tough position on both sides of the aisle.

“Nobody wants their taxes raised, nobody wants their schools budgets cut, and we want to see and make sure Hartford feels the pain,” Flax said. “We want them to know what they are doing their affects our community.”

As the numbers have been decided and cuts were going to place, teacher Casey Halliwell has only one year on the job, but is more worried about her students than her paycheck.

“The students need smaller classes, they need support they need funding and that’s what it comes down to. We all could lose our jobs, but at the end of the day it’s about the students and what they need.”

While a compromise has been reached and the fight is over here in Groton. The fight is not over in Hartford, as they are going to take this on the road and get as much money as they can from the state.

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