At this time of year, school districts throughout the state are forced to plan budget cuts for the coming school year, 2014-15. One of the most difficult things a school board must do is to cut good staff, but it’s something that must be done in nearly every district. It comes in the form of a letter to those affected informing them that they’ve been placed on Unrequested Leave of Absence.
In essence, superintendent Messman explained, the teachers are notified now that their job will (or may) be cut in the next school year. This allows each the time to find another job, if needed. If it turns out that an individual’s job is not cut, they can be reinstated. It is difficult, he said, but it’s more kind to let them know now rather than wait until later in this school year.
The cuts are required to keep the district within budget, and keep staffing in line with enrollment and class sizes.
Those who have been sent letters of Unrequested Leave of Absence include: Rebecca Hiltner (elementary teacher), Melissa Notch (elementary basic skills teacher at 4th grade), Joe Punchocar (elementary teacher), Tim Rice (high school shop teacher), and Tara Wood (speech/language clinician). Wood may re-apply and may be rehired for one more year if no one with proper licensure is hired.
In addition to these teachers, two special ed. assistants will be discharged at the end of this school year because of program needs (enrollment numbers): Amy Bischof and Melissa Kapoi.
Mary Phillips, the lead special ed teacher, will retire at the end of this year. No one could remember exactly how long she’d been at EV-W, but it’s more than 30 years. “She hasn’t had a lunch or prep break in about 15 years,” said elementary principal Rob Pederson.
Liz Otto, high school English teacher, is on unpaid medical leave (for her newborn son) through the end of this school year.
$86,000 has been budgeted for new staff computers, replacing some that are 12 years old.
In addition, the board decided to purchase 30 HP computers and chargers for about $14,000; these will comprise a mobile computer lab for the elementary school. (iPads are not cost-effective at the elementary school because they cannot be used for state testing at the elementary school level.) The purchase may be made on this year’s budget, if money allows, or on next year’s budget.
Bruce Kiehn requested a mobile computer lab for the high school as well, and for next year if possible. He requested 30 iPads for the high school.
The computer labs at both the elementary and high school are unavailable to staff and students for about six weeks at this time each year for state-mandated testing. Also, the labs are not consistently available to staff and students who need them during the year. The mobile labs will help students at both schools throughout the year.