Facing A Tight Budget, Algonquin Ponders More Teachers

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Superintendent Charles Gobron addressed the Regional School Committee on Wednesday evening.
Superintendent Charles Gobron addressed the Regional School Committee on Wednesday evening. Photo Credit: Bret Matthew

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Larger-than-expected increases in the student population could lead Algonquin Regional High School to hire more teachers to keep class sizes down, Superintendent Charles Gobron said Wednesday.

He added, however, that fiscal realities might make these additions difficult.

Gobron presented the Regional School Committee with his fiscal year 2014 budget priorities at its Dec. 19 meeting, emphasizing the need for maintaining high quality staff and programs.

In FY13, nearly 40 more students enrolled at Algonquin than in FY12. Gobron said that a number of classes have more students than what School Committee policy calls for. He added that the goal is to have 16-24 students in honors classes and 14 to 22 students in college prep classes. 

To address this, Gobron proposed hiring one math teacher, one science teacher, one guidance counselor, one physical education teacher, one part-time social studies teacher and one part-time business teacher.

"We want to make sure that we're continuing to offer a variety of courses to all of our students," Gobron said, adding that all students should be able to get into the programs they want to take. "That's part of what makes Algonquin such a great school."

He admitted the school is still facing difficult fiscal times. While a $180,000 shortfall in FY13 was covered by temporary savings — such as teachers taking leaves of absences — and federal rollover grants, Gobron said these funds will not be available in FY14.

The school also must meet a contracted salary increase of 1.55 percent for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. In addition, Gobron said new regulations for teacher evaluations will put a strain on administrative resources, possibly requiring new hires.

He also noted the uncertainty of state funding in the coming fiscal year.

"We have been trying to be as fiscally responsible as we can possibly be," Gobron said.

Gobron did not present a budget number at Wednesday's meeting. He is expected to offer a preliminary amount at a meeting in January.

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