, Derry, New Hampshire

October 4, 2012

Londonderry schools have fewer students.

By James Niedzinski

---- — LONDONDERRY — Nobody is cutting class, but there are nearly 190 fewer students than there were last year.

During a School Board meeting last week, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg announced the decline in numbers.

There were fewer children at the elementary level and Londonderry High School has about 80 fewer students than it did last year, Greenberg said.

However, lower numbers do not necessarily mean fewer teachers.

Greenberg was very clear when it comes to reducing teaching staff and replacing some of them with teaching aides.

“I would rather have 17 kids and one teacher than 23 kids with a teacher and an aide,” he said.

While he did recognize the importance of teaching aides, they simply cannot replace a teacher who has more training.

On a larger scale, the school district has about 1,000 fewer students than it did 10 years ago, Greenberg said.

But that doesn’t translate into budget cuts. Neither the superintendent nor the School Board wants to see the budget slashed.

“We used to be focused on squeezing every penny to drive down costs,” School Board member John Robinson said. “I am done listening to the mantra of ‘cut, cut, cut.’”

While teaching aides will not take over the classrooms, Greenberg said the budget will be reduced and personnel costs may have to be brought down. Since 2006, the district has cut approximately 40 full-time positions as a result of declining enrollment.

Robinson said technological aides such as smart boards and iPads may be costly now, but they have saved the school district money.

By moving special education services in house, the district is saving more than $6 million a year, Greenberg said.

Officials will continue bi-weekly meetings until the school budget is finalized in January.