LACEY TOWNSHIP - The township's school board, still flummoxed that voters rejected a 2010-11 budget that did not raise taxes, reluctantly voted Monday night to lay off 30 of its 692 employees.
District officials have been trying to persuade teachers to take a one-year pay freeze that they said would avoid layoffs. The district lost 14 percent of its state aid for 2010-11.
Layoffs still are not inevitable. The board and teachers continue to negotiate, said Bruce Carney, the new board president, and Mark Iannini, head of the teachers union. Monday's vote was necessary to provide legally required notice to the 16 teachers slated to lose their jobs June 30.
Six office staff, six custodians and two bus drivers also are on the layoff list, for a total of 4 percent of the district's current staff.
Eric Schubiger provided the lone vote against the layoffs, saying he thought the district could have budgeted a little better and laid off fewer employees.
All nonteaching district employees have agreed to pay freezes. Carney said he believes if the teachers follow suit, the Township Committee will approve the school budget. A special meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 5, Township Clerk and Administrator Veronica Laureigh said Monday.
Iannini said the union is seeking certain assurances. He said teachers have already forfeited increases to supplemental pay, such as coaching stipends.
"We're still hoping to partner with the board," Iannini said. "We need to protect our members."
Several board members at Monday's meeting lamented the budget's defeat, the district's third in 10 years, online records show.
"I'm sorry that as a board member I wasn't able to convince the public to support the budget," Maureen Tirella said. "We did not feel we had extra jobs to cut. We did not feel we were able to cut any further."
"I think it proved there's a lot of angry taxpayers out there, and we paid a little bit of a price," Carney said. "We'll just keep on trying."
"This happened before, and we've been able to work through it, and I believe we're going to do it again," member Bill Quist said.
Quist and Linda Downing last week won election to their seventh three-year terms. Running mate Frank Palino joined the board for the first time Monday night, replacing Robert Laureigh.
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