College Place School Board OKs cuts

About eight jobs will be lost, either through layoffs or non-renewals.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- The College Place School Board approved a Modified Educational Program Thursday night that will authorize cuts to staffing and some programming in the upcoming school year.

The cuts include about six layoffs and two short-term contracts that won't be renewed.

But the news wasn't all bad: a last-minute amendment to the proposal spared a third-grade teaching position and a library assistant position.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the plan. Through it, the district will dip into its reserve funds for more than $100,000 to cover the cost of operating the district next year. The plan preserves staffing of its third grade classrooms with four classes, instead of three which had been proposed originally. It also makes sure students have access to library facilities throughout the day by keeping a library assistant position.

Board members Troy Fitzgerald, Todd Stubblefield, Brian Maiden, and Marci Knauft voted in favor of the amended plan, while board chair Doug Case voted against it. Case and Maiden also voted against the amendment, which passed 3-2.

The amended plan, which was proposed by Fitzgerald during the meeting, followed passionate pleas from staff and some parents to preserve the third-grade class and library staffing.

Superintendent Tim Payne first presented the MEP several weeks ago as a way to brace for projected cuts in funding from the state.

The original plan was to save about $288,000, but also require about $78,000 to be spent from the district's ending fund balance.

Payne stressed last night that the plan prepares for a worst-case scenario, and could be improved should the state budget turn out more positive.

The board was working against contract deadlines that are soon approaching. By May 15, the district must have teacher contracts out and staffing prepared for the upcoming school year. Certified employees who will not be coming back must be notified by that date of their non-renewal.

Despite the last minute change, the MEP will still see cuts in staffing throughout the district. Several administrators will be taking on additional programming duties, with the former Sager Middle School dean of students taking on full-time teaching duties. A sixth-grade teaching position was also be cut under the plan, so next year Meadow Brook Intermediate will have three sixth-grade classrooms instead of four. Class size increase at that level was not as large a concern among staff as the third-grade proposal, which would have placed 28 children in each class, including transitional bilingual students. The third-grade classes are currently about 23 students.

About three classified employees would be laid off, while three certified employees were to receive Reduction in Force notifications. Two others were not having short-term contracts renewed.

Payne said with the amendment to the third grade classroom, the most senior employee receiving a RIF, or layoff notification, would likely be retained to staff the third grade class.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317.

Read the plan

The district's full MEP plan, without amendments, is currently available online at cpps.org, under the Business Office category of the District Information tab on the front page.

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