BETHEL — There will be 15 fewer staff members when classes resume in SAD 44 on Aug. 26.

Superintendent David Murphy said the $9.2 million budget resulted in the staff reduction.

“We’re on a tight budget and have lost some positions, but the buildings are adapting to reduced staffing. We don’t expect any further curtailments,” he said.

Children from kindergarten through grade 5 will continue to attend Andover and Woodstock elementary schools. Enrollment at Andover is about 30 and in Woodstock about 85, prompting discussions to continue next month on whether to keeping the schools open.

At the Telstar Middle/High School complex in Bethel, a new sprinkler system is almost completed, and a new ninth-grade orientation program is being planned.

Also at the high school, scheduling changes are being made that would shorten class periods so students will have more class options.

“We’re trying to maximize what we can offer,” Murphy said.

A kindergarten transition program is in the works for next Wednesday at Crescent Park Elementary School in Bethel.

Student enrollment is slightly more than 900.

All staff positions are filled except for a half-time instrumental music teacher and a half-time health coordinator. Both positions will serve the entire district.

Teacher workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24, and Wednesday, Aug. 25, and the board’s first meeting of the new school year is set for Sept. 13 at Andover Elementary School.

Despite the smaller budget and staff, school assessments in the district’s five member towns have risen because of a significant reduction in state aid to education and a rise in property values.

“We’re looking inwardly to make sure we can offer as much as we can,” Murphy said.

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