EDITOR'S NOTE: A will take place Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Hamden Middle School.
Teachers could be laid off, programs suspended and buildings closed early if Mayor Scott Jackson's proposed school budget is approved, according to school officials.
Jackson presented his budget to the Legislative Council last week, reducing the Board of Education's request by $350,000. The board had asked for $1 million more than it got for the current year.
The mayor's proposed budget is available here.
On Monday, the Hamden PTA sent home a notice with students outlining how those cuts might play out.
The board's approved budget included the elimination of 7.5 teaching positions, but according to the letter sent home Monday, as many as 20 teachers could be cut under Jackson's proposal.
"Hamden will have to lay off 20 teachers, causing class sizes to increase," the letter says. "Small class size is a key factor in keeping students engaged and productive."
The actual number is closer to 15, Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said.
"There is right now a possibility of 15 layoffs with the mayor's allocation," she said Monday afternoon, including the 7.5 the board figured into its approved budget and 7.5 additional job cuts under Jackson's plan.
If the Legislative Council reduces the allotment further, then there will likely be more layoffs, Rabinowitz said.
"If in fact it is reduced more, then certainly would be more positions eliminated," she said. "But that's nothing I want to do."
Over the past three years, the administration and the school board has cut as much as possible in order to avoid layoffs, she said.
"Now I've cut everything else - there's nothing left to cut" but positions, she said.
In addition, the Talented and Gifted program would be "indefinitely suspended." That program is for fifth- and sixth-grade students who have been identified as gifted learners and pulls them out of regular classes one day a week to attend a special program at Bear Path School.
That prospect sent one student home in tears Monday.
"My 10-year-old came home crying uncontrollably," Bear Path School parent Betsy Driebeek said of her son Kyle.
Kyle was identified as gifted when he was in first grade and is scheduled to be a part of the TAG program next year.
"My son has been waiting for this since the end of first grade," she said. "but they see it as fluff.
"When a child needs help, they have to give them help so they can graduate," she said. "I've watched my son be bored in second, third and fourth grade, and he was so looking forward to this.
" He was so happy and excited to know next year is TAG," she said, "and now it's being pulled out from under him."
Jackson's budget also revives the possibility that school buildings will close at 5 p.m. each day, curtailing evening activities at the schools. That is a measure the school board discussed during its budget deliberations.
Middle school and high school freshmen sports also would face the axe, another measure the board considered.