April 25, 2007 in City

East Valley School District outlines plans to cut teachers

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Coming up

East Valley patrons will have another opportunity to ask questions and comment on the proposed budget cuts at the next school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. May 8 in the district administrative center, 12325 E. Grace.

Christine Burgess, superintendent at East Valley School District, presented the board of directors and a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday with a list of recommendations for $1.8 million in reductions for the 2007-08 school year.

Seven years of declining enrollment, unfunded state mandates, higher expenses and less revenue than expected will leave the district with an estimated fund balance of $50,000-$60,000 at the end of this school year.

Burgess’ recommendation includes eliminating 16.7 certified teaching positions, including 4.5 at the elementary level, six at the middle school level and 6.2 at the high school level. One position is equal to a full-time equivalent, and fractions of positions are based on hours worked.

District employees were given the list of recommended reductions last week.

“People would really like to hear more about names. We don’t know how that’s going to fall out because we work with the union leadership on that. It’s all by seniority,” Burgess said.

After the meeting, East Valley Education Association President Leslee McLachlan said: “I think that there are some other administrative cuts that they could make. A lot of the recommended cuts are from our employees with lower salaries.”

Burgess recommended elimination of two administration positions and a reduction in the hours of central administration office staff.

When possible, the retirement or resignation of existing staff will be used for personnel reductions, Burgess said.

As the district learns of additional employees leaving the district, the recommendations for position cuts could change.

Tim Irvin, a district security employee, told the board the recommendation to reduce district security to two positions in a district with 4,000 students was dangerous in light of the recent events at Virginia Tech and other potential school violence issues.

The music and athletic programs will stay for next year.

“We know that these are really important to this community. Kids do well when they have a well-rounded program. We’ve really been cautious about that,” Burgess said.

Both short- and long-term budget reduction items will be up for further discussion as enrollment is expected to continue to decline.

Some of these items include closing an elementary school with the option of leasing out the building; the sale of the administration building with the district office relocating to an elementary school; Continuous Curriculum School program changes and cost reductions; reduction in extracurricular activities, athletic programs and music program consolidation/reduction.

“These are some areas that we aren’t making decisions about now, but they need more discussion,” Burgess said. “It involves talking to our community, involving our community and involving our employees in this.”

Board Chairwoman June Sine said the board will seek to establish a facility task group. This group would be made up primarily of community members who would evaluate building usage and boundary issues and report back to the board in January or February.

Even though board approval isn’t required, Burgess will ask the board for a consensus vote at the next meeting on May 8.

Other options

Other areas for possible reductions include:

•Cutting all district departments and building budgets by 6 percent;

•Consolidating bus runs up to 25 hours per day;

•Reducing activity bus runs;

•Reducing the curriculum budget 50 percent;

•Deferring maintenance on large projects;

•Reducing the purchase of replacement computers.

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