The Kyrene School District administration is preparing for a worst-case scenario. Superintendent David Schauer and the supporting staff outlined reductions to staff at Tuesday's governing board meeting, which specified a possible reduction in force to the equivalent of 70 full-time employees.
While 30 will be due to the likes of retirement or the end of one-year contracts, Kyrene may cut 40 additional staff pending a special session of the governing board next Tuesday, May 3.
"We are preparing for the worst-case scenario," Schauer said on Tuesday.
All told, Kyrene is dealing with a reduction of about $5.3 million to its budget for the 2011-12 school year. The changes in staff, including a reduction of 27 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in kindergarten through sixth grade, spells an increase in a class size range of two students for kindergarten through third grade classrooms and one additional for fourth through eighth grade. The decrease in staff would give the district approximately $1.35 million.
In the scenario they are looking at, changes to special areas includes reducing physical education by five FTE, music by five, seventh and eight grade language arts by two and art by one. Schauer alluded to the fact that the district budget has taken a significant hit over the past three years, dropping from $106.4 million in 2009-09 to $94.5 for next year.
"You can't do the same job with $12 million less than you had three years ago," he said. "This is an emotional time and the passion really comes out when it is our friends and co-workers, who we love."
Schools notified employees on Monday that if the governing board approved the measure at Tuesday's meeting, which it did in a 5-0 vote, they would not be back next year, at least for the time being.
"There were difficult conversations at the schools on Monday," Schauer said.
The governing board meeting was filled with teachers, family and community members on Tuesday. Many addressed the board with their questions about the process, with some voicing concern that it was taking place too quickly.
"Out of the 100 (budget cut) scenarios (proposed by the Kyrene District Leadership Council), why are reductions to special areas at the top? And what are the other scenarios?" parent Jodi Pelczarski said. "At a meeting last week, it was still unclear as to what cuts (were going to be made)."
Schauer reiterated that the District Leadership Council, comprised of school principals and other staff members from across the district, had combed over the budget and had come up with a long list of all reasonable reductions. Depending on what scenario they decide on, changes to the timing and staffing of special areas, such as physical education, would give the district between $700,000 and $1.1 million.
"Quality education taught by qualified instructors is the cornerstone of physical education," said Ellen Abbadessa, a Kyrene physical education teacher. "It's a sad day for me because I have a child that is 10 years old and I know these hard decisions ahead of us are impacting us all."
The 5-0 vote to allow the reduction in force came with the stipulation that a special session be held on May 3 at the district office, 8700 S. Kyrene Road in Tempe, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
More information regarding the Kyrene budget can be found at www.Kyrene.org under the "Budget Information" tab.
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