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Five teachers rehired at USD 489

6/6/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Five of the 16 Hays USD 489 teachers who received pink slips in April have been rehired.

The five and their new positions are Sarah Smith, fourth grade, Washington Elementary School; Betsy Forinash, fourth grade, Lincoln Elementary School; Erin Flax, half-time third grade, Wilson Elementary School; Leslie Karlin, fifth grade, Wilson; and Allison Kitchen, sixth grade, Hays Middle School.

Earlier this spring, the district cut 19.9 positions through reduction in force, non-renewals and attrition -- retirements and resignations.

The five were hired to fill openings created from retirements, resignations and non-renewals, said Shanna Dinkel, USD 489 curriculum director.

Information released at the board of education's retreat last month indicates elementary class sizes will be limited to 23 students in K-2, and 25 students in third through fifth grades. Sections will be closed when the limit is met.

The five teachers rehired won't make a difference in class sizes.

"The board (of education) will make those decisions in July or August," Dinkel said. "Any vacancies we post at this point will be resignations or retirements."

The staff cuts were made because district officials expect a budget deficit next year of more than $1 million. The non-renewed personnel salaries total $551,123, plus approximately $137,780 in benefits.

To accommodate the personnel cuts, Superintendent Dean Katt said earlier this spring four elementary classes -- a Wilson third grade, a fourth- and fifth-grade class at O'Loughlin, and a Roosevelt fifth-grade class -- are being cut. Classes also will be cut at Hays Middle School and Hays High School.

"They'll make sure it's all covered," Katt said of the core classes.

Two librarian positions, a counselor, physical education position, half-time English language learner position, 0.8 position in art and 1.8 positions in music have been cut. The music department was cut three years ago, and the board voted to eliminate the fourth-grade orchestra program.

The personnel cuts also mean transfers to fill the vacated slots other teachers are licensed to teach.

Transfers approved by the board Monday night include Cindy Compeau from Roosevelt Elementary School librarian to Washington first-grade teacher; Kerri Lacy from Hays Middle School reading teacher to Lincoln fifth-grade teacher; Jessica Butte from Hays High School and HMS ESL to Hays High science teacher; Marla Wasinger from Roosevelt first-grade teacher to Lincoln second-grade teacher; Desirae Kinderknecht Hays High math to HMS math; and Jenny Johnson, KVC Wheatland to Westside Alternative School. Kim Pfanenstiel was hired to fill Johnson's place at KVC Wheatland.

One classified staff member, Gabriela Schmidt, was transferred from special-education records to fill the human resources assistant position vacated by Victoria North.

Some staff members such as art teacher Jennifer Younger will have assignment changes. Last year, Younger was assigned to HMS and Washington. Next year, she will be assigned to Washington and O'Loughlin.

"There'll be some other things that we just take care of assignment-wise -- music, art and PE don't go through personnel (transactions)," Dinkel said.

Positions cut, transfers and reassignments were decided by the district's administrative team.

Rehiring was done by looking at the teacher's certification, experience, student population and the vacancy.

"The work with the administrative team has been positive, and that's been important with this," Dinkel said. "The staff and the teachers we have are professional. They've been patient and understanding with these stressful times."