Jay juggles teaching positions; looking to cut five jobs to save money

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JAY – School Committee members cut five teaching positions, including two science positions, but agreed to hire a music teacher, pre-kindergarten teacher and an education technician II.

The board also voted unanimously to take no action Thursday on the elimination of a Title 1A elementary reading teacher and to seek and hire a system-wide technology support assistant to help service about 160 used laptops the district plans to buy until the board has further information. The date to take up both of these items again is tentatively set for Monday, May 22, at the middle school.

Thursday’s meeting lasted more than five hours with considerable debate on several items including creating a pre-kindergarten program. The latter was approved with only Chairman Clint Brooks in opposition. He cited financial concerns including the unknown impact of the elimination of personal property tax on the town, a statewide tax reform initiative on November’s ballot, and the cost of a new program, as well as concerns about creating an educational gap between 4-year-olds attending the school program, Head Start program and day-care.

Parents, teachers and Superintendent Robert Wall supported the program that will have a strong literary component and a cost an estimated at $65,000, depending who was hired.

The program is expected to allow teachers to reach children earlier while their brains are still developing and give them a jump-start to help their transition into kindergarten. It will also offer an alternative to those whose parents cannot afford pre-school or who are not eligible for Head Start.

The town has about 45 eligible students, according to birth statistics, with 26 already signed up for the pre-kindergarten program, elementary school Principal Beverly Gillespie said Thursday. Fifteen of those do not receive any services including Head Start and day-care, while six are enrolled in Head Start. Five were unavailable for comment, she said.

Jay Head Start has 19 children, Gillespie said.

School officials said they didn’t want to hurt the Head Start Program or day-care services and plan to work with both.

The program would be able to serve 34 students and be run four days a week in two, 2-hour sessions. Students would travel to and from school on a separate bus with an educational technician II on it to monitor students. The technician would work four days a week and the teacher would work five days and conduct home visits on Fridays.

The board also voted 4-1, with member Nancy Chaney opposed, to eliminate a science teaching position at the middle school leaving one teacher to teach fifth-grade science with an education technician to assist.

The board also eliminated positions in the seventh and eighth grade but did not mention what they were.

A high school physics teaching position was also eliminated with no opposition as was a one-year kindergarten teaching position that was established to serve an increased number of students this year

Jay is cooperating with SAD 36 on services with Jay teaching some Livermore Falls High School language arts students and Livermore Falls teaching physics to Jay students.

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