Brockton Public Schools officials said they will lay off at least 130 teacher and staff positions, or nearly 10% of its educators, as a result of sweeping budget cuts.

District officials blamed student enrollment declines for the $18 million budget deficit that prompted the layoffs. The state funds districts on a per pupil basis, and since 2020, Brockton has lost more than 1,300 students, creating a significant shortfall. Many students left school during the pandemic to take jobs that would help support their families, or to attend private or charter schools.

Parent Maggie Pinney, whose daughter will enter her final year of high school in the fall, said she's so frustrated, she's considering changing districts.

“Is my [rising] senior going to be able to actually learn?” Pinney asked. “She already had challenges prior to the pandemic that were further exacerbated after the pandemic. We're still trying to seek some resolution for her.”

Brockton Public Schools spokesperson Jessica Silva-Hodges said the district has exhausted all of its other options for shrinking its budget. She said the district is rolling out a five-year improvement plan, and that Brockton city officials are trying to expand the city's tax base by attracting new business — but those efforts have not come in time to alter the school district's stark funding outlook for next year.

“We really needed to make a change, unfortunately, to realign staffing with the existing enrollment,” Silva-Hodges said.

The district did not specify how many cuts are to teachers, teachers' aides and other staff positions.

Silva-Hodges said the layoffs were made equitably and that there will be no outsized impact on any particular school or program.

“We had been very careful in making decisions to ensure that students won't have any loss of programming or extra extracurricular activities,” she said. “That's something that's been a big priority.”

Among the big changes for the district, Brockton Superintendent Mike Thomas will also assume the role of interim principal at Brockton High School starting this fall in addition to his duties leading the district. Thomas will steer programming shifts at the high school, but he will not receive extra pay, according to the Brockton Enterprise.

"[Thomas] felt that if he's going to be making significant enough changes at the high school, then he needs to be the one leading that work and do a hands-on day to day effort to realign the programs at the high school," Silva-Hodges said.

More than 200 school staff and administrators have signed a petition urging Brockton City Council to fund the district’s missing $18 million.

In a statement to GBH, the Brockton Education Assocation, the union representing teachers, and the Independent Brockton Administrative Assistants and Technical Employee Association and the Brockton Education Support Professionals Association, two unions representing school staff, balked at the cuts, saying they would not solve the district's problems and that the city needs to prioritize the needs of its young people.

“We recognize that student enrollment in BPS has declined, however we also recognize that these cuts will gravely impact the students we continue to serve each day,” the unions said in a joint statement.

They said more than 80% of Brockton’s student population is designated as having special needs and almost 80% of the district's students are economically disadvantaged. Those student populations will be most deeply affected by the cuts.

Pinney, the concerned parent, said her daughter has special needs and that her biggest concern is that class sizes will grow.

“This is a problem," she said. "It's important that these class sizes allow for attention and learning and the least amount of disruption.”