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Teacher cuts lead to shuffling

5/2/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Hays USD 489 personnel will be smaller by 19.9 total positions through reduction in force, non-renewals and attrition -- retirements and resignation -- for the 2014-15 school year.

District officials anticipate a $1.3 million budget shortfall next year and expect the cuts to save $979,749 in salary and benefits.

Four elementary classes will be cut next year -- a Wilson third-grade, a fourth- and fifth-grade class at O'Loughlin and a Roosevelt fifth-grade class.

Three Hays Middle School classes -- two English/language arts and one math class -- will be cut.

Hays High cuts include math, social studies and business classes, and 0.8 of a class in foreign languages in Latin and German.

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

Two librarian positions will be cut, "one through attrition and one elementary library position," Katt said.

The elementary librarian whose position is being cut will take another position in the district, and the middle-school librarian will cover the Hays High library, too, he said.

Other cuts include a counselor, physical education position, a half-time English language learner position, 0.8 position in art and 1.8 positions in music. The music department was cut three years ago, and the board voted to eliminate the fourth-grade orchestra program. The list also includes two custodians in the district.

"Any time you cut (classified) positions, it directly affects students," said Kim Schneweis, Hays-NEA president.

Those concerned about class sizes and cutting programs have to remember "none of that's free," she said.

The state is transferring more of the financial responsibility to the local level, such as increasing local option budgets.

Katt said he recommends hiring a registered nurse, not a licensed practical nurse, at Hays High to fill an open slot created by a retirement.

The district still could see savings because the new employee likely would start at a lower pay than the retiring nurse.

"That could change. The board may want to hire an LPN," he said. "Based on information I have, I think (an RN) is the best option."

While the positions cut are firm for now, it could change depending on final enrollment numbers and late retirements and resignations.

"We have a recall process in our contract," Schneweis said. "As people resign and retire and they (administrators) figure out where they need people, hopefully some (non-renewed teachers) will be recalled."

A total of 16 certified staff have received non-renewal notices from the board of education, since attrition isn't expected to accomplish the needed staff cuts.

Those 16 staff members who were given non-renewal notices totaled 13.9 positions -- 7.5 elementary positions, 3 middle school positions, 0.8 high school positions and 2.6 were district positions in music and art. Their salaries total $551,123, plus approximately $137,780 in benefits.

There's not a direct link between those non-renewed by the board last month and the cut positions or savings.

"It's kind of a ripple effect. ... If we cut high school math, if they have tenure, they move down, (and) bump somebody out of the middle school," Katt said. "That middle school teacher, if they're tenured and have, most of them do, elementary certification, then they bump an elementary person."

That means new faces in some buildings and classrooms next year as teachers are transfered to fill the vacated slots they are licensed to teach.

A list of transfers will be released as details are finalized, Katt said.