April 10, 2014 in Washington Voices

East Valley School District moves toward layoffs

District must notify teachers if there is a reduction in force by May 15
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The East Valley School Board will hold a work session to meet with another search firm Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. in the administration building, 12325 E. Grace Ave.

The East Valley School board on Tuesday took its first step to begin layoffs.

The board approved a resolution that states the layoffs would help the district avoid a fiscal emergency they anticipate because of declining enrollment and consolidation of the seventh and eighth grades into one building next year.

“This is what happens when decisions are made when we don’t know the answers,” board member Mitch Jensen said.

He said there are extra teachers with the change from a K-8 system to a middle school model – currently there are four eighth grade math teachers, but next year, they will need two, and expects this is the case with every core subject.

“I know there is a way to do this without sending out RIF (reduction in force) notices,” he said.

Interim Superintendent Tom Gresch said the administration has several models of how deep the cuts will be and how many, but that has not been agreed upon yet. He is also looking at every option to save as many jobs as he can.

“We will have an impact on teachers,” he said.

Gresch said it pains him that this is the first resolution he put in front of the board as a superintendent. As the director of personnel the past two years, he had a say in who had been hired. But he also has a responsibility to make sure the district is financially solvent. The resolution sets in motion the district’s staffing plans for next year – contractually, the district must let teachers know they will be part of a reduction in force before May 15.

Board chairman Mike Novakovich, Mike Harris, Justin Voelker and Fred Helms all voted to approve the resolution. Jensen voted no and said, “I do not believe we need to do a reduction in force.”

The board also heard from Dennis Ray, president and owner of Northwest Leadership Associates, a search firm which could find a new superintendent for the district, if the board approves.

Ray said his firm would recommend beginning a search in October, not immediately. Superintendent contracts generally run from July 1 through June 30, which leaves the board little time to find a new superintendent, although Ray didn’t want to imply they wouldn’t get a pool of quality candidates if they searched immediately.

He then laid out a calendar of events that would take place during their search, including open sessions for the community and staff, and online surveys of qualities they want in a superintendent. The targeted application date wouldn’t be until Jan. 31, when interviews with the board, community and staff would begin.

His firm’s fee would be $12,800 and does not include travel expenses for out-of-town candidates.

The board will hear from another search firm Monday.


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