BROOKLINE (CBS) – Brookline Public Schools announced layoff notices went out to teachers Friday. In a letter to families and staff, school officials said the COVID-19 pandemic has “induced a budget crisis” that will force administrators to cut the 2021 budget by $6.3M.
An internal memo obtained by WBZ-TV revealed hundreds of teachers and staff will receive pink slips – among them all K-12 librarians and all elementary language teachers. The president of the Brookline Educators Union called the dismissals the result of “irresponsible planning” and part of a “business oriented approach that fails educators.”
“June 15th is deadline by which these pink slips have to be given out. And that is going to cause incredible disruption of public education,” said Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Najimy says the association is aware of layoffs in six other communities. And with a projected 20% drop in state tax revenue, they expect the list to grow in the coming weeks. “We don’t know the numbers yet but it could be in the tens of thousands,” Najimy said.
“Now more than ever we need to fund public education. We need to rely on the federal government to provide a new level of funding to cities and schools as well as the state government,” said Najimy. The student opportunity act that was won in the fall legislated into law unconditionally that the state has an obligation to adequately fund public education.”
Critics of Brookline’s plan point to the town’s rainy day fund, which according to a 2019 audit has a $26.6M balance; money they say can help protect teachers’ jobs.
“When you start cutting critical programs in the short term the risk is that they’re not going to be there when life returns to normal,” said Shari Becker, a Brookline High parent.
It’s still not known if schools will return in the fall. The school committee plans to hold a public meeting webinar on the upcoming budget on June 4th.