Lehigh Valley

Easton schools present plan to avoid teacher cuts

EASTON, Pa. - Easton Area school administrators say they have a way to balance the 2014-2015 budget without anyone losing their jobs.

A plan presented Tuesday night to the Easton Area School Board does include 29 job cuts over the next three years, but those come from attrition, not layoffs.

The proposal also shows the district raising property taxes by 2.7 percent each year for the next three years and dipping into its fund balance to the tune of $2.2 million.

It was one of four plans presented to the board Tuesday, but "the only one we'd recommend is the first one," Superintendent John Reinhart said.

The other plans all involved at least some staff members losing their jobs, with the most extreme scenario showing 72 job cuts, nearly all of those being teaching positions over the next three years.

And all the scenarios will lead to larger class sizes, Reinhart said, with Easton Area High School and Easton Area Middle School potentially facing classrooms with 30-plus students.

Board members had been considering a plan to balance next year's budget -- which has a nearly $6 million deficit -- with 36 staffing cuts and a 4.9 percent property tax increase.

Members of the board have met with the district's teachers' union twice, said board President Frank Pintabone.

He said board members prefer the first scenario presented by the administration.

The board is expected to vote on the district's proposals at its May meeting. 

Reinhart said the district is still considering elements of a five-year plan he proposed in January, including selling its headquarters in Forks Township.

It will also likely close the Easton Area Academy, the district's alternative school, and move those students to classrooms in the high school and middle school. 

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