Thursday, December 12, 2013
PORTLAND — Four years ago, Gloria L. Noyes found herself at the pinnacle of her teaching career.
Gloria Noyes, 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year, is on a list of Portland school employees to be laid off. The School Board will have a final vote on the cuts May 28.
Noyes, who was teaching fifth grade at Westbrook's Congin Elementary School, was chosen by her peers and the Maine Department of Education as the 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year.
The list of nominees for teacher of the year typically spans the state in an effort to recognize an outstanding educator who has served as a powerful advocate for students and educators.
"You beautiful children are the reason I get up in the morning," Noyes was quoted by the Portland Press Herald as saying during a surprise school assembly where she received the award.
But at Tuesday night's Portland School Board meeting, Noyes will find herself on a list of a much different nature.
Noyes, who left Westbrook in October to take a job as assistant principal of the Fred P. Hall elementary school in Portland, is on the list of teachers and school administrators who will be laid off at the end of the school year.
The list of affected employees became public recently when the School Board published the agenda for its May 21 meeting.
The School Board will hold a first reading on the proposed staff cuts Tuesday night before voting at its next meeting on May 28 to finalize the reductions.
Noyes, who is married and has two young children, says she is frightened about being laid off.
"It's scary," the Westbrook resident said Sunday night. "I'm very worried about losing my insurance. It has been a tough pill to swallow."
Last week, Portland voters approved a $96.4 million school budget, despite deep staff cuts that were needed to pay for raises and other increasing costs.
The budget approved by voters does not account for possible cuts in state funding, including a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to shift $1.3 million in teachers' retirement contributions from the state to the school district.
Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk issued a statement after the referendum vote, saying: "This has been a very challenging budget to craft. We deeply regret the number of layoffs that will occur and the resulting loss of many talented teachers and staff."
School officials have said the cuts were necessary to pay for tuition costs of Portland students attending charter schools, salary increases, and a rise in health care premiums.
School Board Chairman Jaimey Caron estimates that the school budget, if left unchanged, would result in the elimination of between 46 and 49 positions.
Caron said the School Board on Tuesday will be presented with a list of positions targeted for elimination, the education area that the cut would impact, and the names of people who will be laid off or, in some cases, have their hours reduced.
Noyes is a full-time employee.
Some of the employees have been on the job for years, while others are probationary and simply won't have their contracts renewed, Caron said.
Caron said there is always a chance that the board could ask Caulk to reconsider laying off teachers, but he said that is unlikely.
"I don't think the board has any better alternatives," Caron said.
Noyes, who hasn't been with the district long enough to be protected by seniority, is already looking for another job, but so far her search has come up empty.
"I'm actively looking for another job. I decided it was too scary to just sit back and wait to see what happened," she said.
Noyes, 42, said she harbors no ill feelings toward the Portland school district.
"I left the classroom so that I could make an impact on a greater number of children," she said. "I have completely enjoyed this new journey in school administration."
Tuesday's board meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Room 250 of the Casco Bay High School. The board will go into executive session first, followed by a couple of workshops and its regular business meeting.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at firstname.lastname@example.org