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Challenging Times

February 10, 2010

Last night, as part of our ongoing attempt to reduce our current budget deficit for the year, the Board of Education approved our recommendation to eliminate 6 positions.  This resulted in the laying off of 4 remarkable young teachers and eliminating 2 long-term substitutes – effective March 17th.  It was particularly difficult, as I had been involved in recruiting and recommending each of the laid off staff for hiring here in Saline.

In reducing 6 positions and meeting contractual obligations related to staff seniority we altered the assignments of an additional 12 faculty.  This is not a day they talk about at Superintendent Boot Camp, but it is a sad reality of the current economic climate. Even with these reductions, the previous non-staff cuts, and concessions from several of our bargaining units – we are still looking at the likely scenario of taking $750,000 from our fund balance to cover the shortfall.

In the bigger picture, this is the beginning and not the end.  We still have a lot of work to do in evaluating revenue and cost saving measures for next year as we wait for more information from Lansing in May about the level of revenue we can expect.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelly Saiya-Cork permalink
    February 10, 2010 8:06 pm

    My regrets to these professionals. I hope they will find new positions soon within our state. Best of luck to you all.

  2. Jodi Eppinga permalink
    February 11, 2010 10:18 am

    My regrets to the kids who are having their teachers replaced mid-year. “Contractual obligations”, in my opinion, are not a good enough excuse for moving people into positions for which they are not prepared.

  3. Shannon permalink
    February 11, 2010 11:56 am

    Scot…I am very concerned about the impact that is being placed on the children over these mid year changes. Is this year’s savings really worth the disruption to the kids?

  4. Diana permalink
    February 11, 2010 3:25 pm

    Scot..I understand these decisions were not dealt with lightly. Those 6 positions are just a part of the changes that are happening. How many people are being moved to a different positions mid-year? I have a junior and his counselor will be changing for the 4th time in 3 years….these counselors are handling over 400 students…with different needs…the ‘counselors’ attend iep meetings, meet with the 400+ students schedules, work with seniors (5th counselor in 4 years for them) on college applications/admissions and then may have the time to meet with students regarding day to day issues as well as working with parents. I have to agree with Jodi when she said ““Contractual obligations”, in my opinion, are not a good enough excuse for moving people into positions for which they are not prepared” nor do they want to be in those positions. The kids attending Saline Schools need to be first…..there are too many other obligations being put before our kids…we need to ask ourselves…what is best for our students?

  5. February 11, 2010 3:43 pm

    I want to be clear – the situation with regard to managing the current budget issue is about trying to limit the impact on students. However, after several years of reductions, it is not possible to avoid. We have a structural deficit, delaying reductions would lead to deeper cuts (higher class sizes, eliminated programs, etc.) for next year. We are looking at increasing revenue, closing buildings, reducing administration, spending down fund balance, and eliminating services – and are still likely facing further cuts for 2010-2011.

    In doing so, we will honor “contractual obligations” – we cannot violate employment law.

    I understand and share your frustration. It is my hope that we can come together as a community to get through this difficult period.

  6. Kim permalink
    February 11, 2010 3:51 pm

    Scot–

    Could you please clarify the number of staff being moved to different positions this year and the number of students being affected?

  7. February 12, 2010 7:57 am

    Below is a message that was sent to staff on Wednesday morning. It is important to note that there is still a window of about 10 days where slight adjustments could be made for the third trimester, however, it is very likely that these are the final staffing adjustments for the year.

    Dear Saline Area Schools Faculty and Staff,

    As you are aware, on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 several members of our teaching faculty were notified of either a layoff or change of assignment for the third trimester effective March 18th of the 2009/2010 school year. Following is a summary of the 3rd trimester assignment changes. Building administrators will be helping transition staff into their new roles.

    High School

    *Kathy Forgiel will join the Counseling Department in a full time capacity.

    *Bryan Bruckman will teach History.

    *Catherine Redies will teach English.

    *Alicia Seegert will teach Physical Education.

    *Ann O’Harris will be part time in the High School Media Center and will teach sections of Drama both at the High School and the Middle School.

    Middle School

    *Matt Stimac will continue in his role as German teacher and will assume counseling duties at the Middle School.

    *Jason Schmier will teach English and History.

    *Staci Nazareth will remain in a part time capacity in the Middle School Media Center and will also serve at the Woodland Meadows Media Center in a part-time capacity.

    *Ann O’Harris will be part time in the High School Media Center and will teach sections of Drama both at the High School and the Middle School.

    Heritage

    *Kathy Patten will remain in a part time capacity in the Heritage Media Center and will also serve at the Woodland Meadows Media Center in a part-time capacity.

    *Peggy McEvoy will teach Special Education.

    *Jane McKie will teach Physical Education.

    *Melissa Smith will teach 5th grade.

    Woodland Meadows

    *Staci Nazareth will remain in a part time capacity in the Middle School Media Center and will also serve at the Woodland Meadows Media Center in a part-time capacity.

    *Kathy Patten will remain in a part time capacity in the Heritage Media Center and will also serve at the Woodland Meadows Media Center in a part-time capacity.

  8. Kim permalink
    February 12, 2010 10:41 am

    So buried in this list of teachers is the fact that all 3 elementary schools and Heritage are losing their counselors? And that the Middle School will now have a different counselor but only part time? The counselor at the Alt. High school is now going to be teaching high school english? And at least some of the high school students will be having a new counselor (as one is now going to teach History.)

    Additionally, the librarians at Heritage, the middle school, and the high school are now part time positions and Woodland Meadows will actually now have 2 part time librarians.

    Heritage will also now be lucky enough to have a former librarian teaching special education and a former counselor teaching gym. Nothing against either Mrs. McEvoy or Mrs. McKie — but I am wondering about this — especially since one of Heritage’s gym teachers is now going to be at the high school teaching gym.

    Then there are the seventh grade and fifth grade classes that will lose their primary teacher 3 months before school is over. I am guessing that is at least 90 students who will have to start over with a new teacher.

    In other words, as far as I can tell every single student and school, with the exception of those attending Houghton, are going to be effected by these lay-offs. I understand the need to follow contract obligations but this is getting to be ridiculous.

    How much is the district saving this year with the reductions?

  9. February 12, 2010 11:08 am

    We are projecting a savings from the staffing reductions to be $100,000 for this fiscal year. Moving the staffing level forward the savings will be $300,000 for next year. With the combined $400,000 savings, we are still projecting a $3.6 million shortfall next year.

  10. Kim permalink
    February 13, 2010 9:33 am

    I am confused about the importance of this $100,000 that it must be saved this school year with no regard to the cost to the children. You stated above the district will most likely take $750,000 from the fund balance to cover the remaining shortfall. Why is it acceptable to take $750,000 but not $850,000 in order to not disrupt the children for the remainder of the year? If it truly is not possible to take an additional $100,000 from the the fund balance, why have the Board, administration and the SEA not worked together to find a solution to this problem? I think everyone would agree this is a major disruption to the children and all the teachers involved. My daughters and their teachers deserve better than this from the leadership in the district.

  11. Sally permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:05 pm

    Your superintendent is VERY courageous to have such a blog!! Kudos to him/her whatever the case may be!

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