Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Dawson: Czajkowski to decide teacher layoffs

Date: 5/13/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- Mayor Susan Dawson proudly stated last week that despite the country's disastrous economic status, Agawam's fiscal year 2010 (FY10) budget does not include any municipal layoffs; the School Department is a different matter, however.

Dawson explained that Superintendent Mary Czajkowski and the School Committee will be responsible for the department's budget cuts and layoffs.

"Zero [municipal] layoffs! That's pretty big news," she told Reminder Publications. "I think we might be the only city in the Commonwealth without any [municipal] layoffs."

Dawson noted that the School Department boasts a $35.3 million budget for FY10, which may include layoffs.

"We need to do the right things for the children [attending Agawam Public Schools], but my obligation as mayor is to produce a balanced budget," she said. "How the superintendent chooses to balance her budget is up to her and the School Committee."

Czajkowski explained that the mandated $1.4 million reduction to the department's budget equates to the elimination of 10.5 teachers. She said she is waiting to receive more accurate local aid and stimulus figures before sending out layoff notices.

"We have a June 15 deadline," Czajkowski explained. "I would prefer, obviously not to send out [layoff] notices ... the goal is to save jobs and avoid layoffs [but] the news from the Senate seems to be more depressing as the days go on."

Dawson said she was not willing to disclose the FY10 budget's total until copies are released to the City Council on May 14, adding that the total "will be comparable to last year's" approximately $77 million budget.

She explained that "the big three" police, fire and school departments were her top priorities.

City Council President Gina Letellier, a member of Dawson's Budget Committee, said the committee only met to discuss the School Department's budget and has never had to meet on the municipal finances.

"We usually have had the budget by now," City Council Vice President Cecilia Calabrese, Finance Committee member, said. "We really have very little time at this date to digest it and get into the details of it with our [three Council Budget] subcommittees.

"My memory is that we've had a cursory idea of what the budget has looked like by now," she continued. "The process really isn't any better than what we've had before."

The City Council's three budget subcommittees will divide the overall budget for analysis prior to the council's vote by June 30.