These district leaders intend to add 75 teachers as layoffs hit elsewhere

Worcester Public Schools is growing its staff in, around and outside the classroom.

As layoffs in other districts climb into the hundreds, leaders in Worcester Public Schools are planning to add 75 new teaching positions and dozens of other posts.

The urban Massachusetts district’s FY24 budget proposal provides for newly funded teacher positions that include 10 English language teachers, 31 teachers and professional staff to assist students with disabilities, 20 wraparound coordinators and 14 middle and high school teachers to meet enrollment increases and course offering needs, Superintendent Rachel H. Monárrez says.

Worcester’s $552 million spending plan would also maintain more than 600 elementary-level teachers to set student-teacher ratios at 19.7 to 1 in 2023-24. District spending would increase by $28.4 million, or 5.4%, compared to FY23’s $523.6 million budget. The district has received in $122.4 million in ESSER relief funds and $90 million in Student Opportunity Act funding.

“This level of financial support will allow the district to focus on expanding learning opportunities, improving wraparound services for students’ social-emotional and physical health, increasing and improving professional development, purchasing curriculum materials and equipment, investing in school facilities and school safety, and expanding early education and prekindergarten programs within the district,” Monárrez says.

School layoffs are accelerating as declining enrollment, failed levies and other financial pressures are piling on top of administrations already facing the expiration of ESSER relief funds. Worcester’s plans represent a stark contrast to the financial binds district leaders find themselves in elsewhere—even in the same state. Not far away, an $18 budget million deficit—caused in part by an enrollment drop of about 1,350 students since the beginning of the COVID pandemic—has forced officials in Brockton Public Schools to eliminate 130 certified positions, WCVB reported.

Worcester, meanwhile, is also adding positions around and outside the classroom including:

  • Two human resources directors to focus on recruitment, retention, and professional development
  • Four instructional coaches to support diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • A director of school climate and culture
  • Three counselors to achieve an approximate 250:1 student-to-counselor ratio throughout the district.
  • Five school psychologist positions to assist with workload balances.
  • Two school nurse positions and two certified nursing assistants
  • 10 middle school athletic coach positions to provide students with additional sports opportunities.
  • Four deans of students at the district’s high schools.

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At least one other district, the Utica City School District in New York, is creating new positions in its budget. Under the yet-to-be-approved spending plan, leaders would hire 94 new teachers, social workers and assistant principals, among other positions, the Observer-Dispatch reported.

The district intends to add six social workers, bringing its total to 29, six assistant principals, three deans of students at its elementary schools, a director of English as a new language, a career-and-technical-education curriculum administrator, and dozens of special education positions.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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