Plymouth school superintendent Christopher Campbell is warning faculty and staff that budget constraints will likely lead to a “reduction in force.” 

Campbell didn’t use the “L’’ word — for layoffs — in his April 24 letter about the impending cuts, but he told the Independent on Thursday that the school system will need to trim $2 million from its budget, which was only recently approved by Town Meeting. The savings would come from cutting about 30 jobs – about $1.3 million – and from other, non-salary expenses.

“I understand the uncertainty and anxiety that these budget reductions may cause for families,” he said. “However, I want to emphasize that our dedication to our students and staff remains unwavering.”

“No programs are being cut, he added, “class sizes will not increase…and services to students will remain consistent with what we currently offer.”  

Campbell said he will target non-teaching positions, looking for “redundancies and areas where efficiencies can be achieved without compromising student services.”

“This is not anything we want to do,” said school committee chair Michelle Badger. “Our hope is this will have minimum impact on our students’ education. And we hope all the staff who are laid off will be able to find employment inside the district, or outside.”

Badger said employees whose jobs are on the line will soon be notified.

The action was made necessary by “various factors,” Campbell said in his letter, including increases in the cost of transportation, salaries, and supplies. In addition, he said, there is “uncertainty” whether fall Town Meeting would appropriate more money.

The approved budget – of about $119 million – may not be enough to cover the pay raises currently being negotiated with the schools’ unions, he wrote.

Select board vice chair Kevin Canty said it’s hard to understand why the schools are taking this step now, just weeks after school officials deemed the $119 million budget adequate.

“The reduction in force is unexpected given Town Meeting funding a level-service budget for next year that the schools described as being sufficient to meet their day-to-day needs,” he said.

But Badger said school officials have been warning for months that the approved budget wouldn’t be enough to cover next year’s projected costs.

They looked at all possible options and couldn’t find another solution, she said. The town could not afford to give the schools more money, she said.

Action is being taken now, she said, because school officials are required to let people know by May 1 if their jobs are in jeopardy.

“It’s the right thing to do — you don’t want to lay people off in the fall,” Badger said. “It messes up the person and the academic programs we’re offering.

“It is the kind way, the most responsible way to allow them to find employment within the district or outside of the district,” she added.

Plymouth schools are not alone in facing money woes, Badger and Campbell pointed out.

“Many school districts across Massachusetts are grappling with similar issues, navigating difficult decisions to address funding shortfalls and maintain educational standards,” Campbell wrote.

Velda Scott, co-chair of the Plymouth Special Education Parent Advisory Council, said she’s worried that the cuts may disproportionately hurt special needs students.

“We’re concerned how this will impact the students who are already struggling and would welcome more information,” she said.  

Rose Calderone, also a co-chair of the Plymouth Special Education Parent Advisory Council, said it didn’t have to come to this.  

“The cuts could have been prevented,” she said. “The situation needed foresight, clear communication with the town, the ability to prioritize funds for staffing and creatively seek additional sources of funding,”

Select board chair Dick Quintal said the town will do what it can to prevent layoffs.

“There is a budget, and we have to stay within the budget,” he said. “That’s not to say I can’t look at the whole budget and see if there’s a little something somewhere.”

“I’m open to doing anything we can to save a schoolteacher’s job,” he said, adding, “Next year will be tougher.”

Andrea Estes can be reached at

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