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School District Oks Staff Cuts

Five educators to lose jobs

Five White Salmon Valley School District educators will lose their positions at the end of the current school year: the cost to be paid for the decline in district revenues due to a shrinking enrollment.

The "2004-05 Reduced Educational Program" resolution adopted last Thursday by the school district's board of directors authorized Superintendent Dale Palmer to "reduce and reorganize the district's education program" by eliminating the equivalent of 3.5 full-time teaching positions at Columbia High School and Wayne M. Henkle Middle School.

Positions to be eliminated under the program reduction/reorganization are:

A .75 full-time equivalent (FTE) K-12 remediation teaching position (at Henkle);

A 1.0 FTE social science teaching position (Henkle);

A .25 FTE hobbies and crafts position (Henkle);

A .5 FTE family and consumer science teaching position (CHS);

A .5 FTE "Project Success" coordinator position (CHS); and

A .5 FTE English language teaching position (CHS).

According to the school board's resolution, "... the need for and the extent of the reduction in and reorganization of the education program and certificated staff for 2004-05 school [is] to assure anticipated expenditures align with projected revenues and that the number of certificated employees under contract does not exceed the number of positions needed to operate the education program ..."

Teachers affected by the board's action will be notified in writing of the district's decision to not renew their contracts, pursuant to a state law that requires such notice be given "on or before May 15, 2004."

"I hate to have to do this to anyone, but fiscally this is what we have to do," Palmer said. He pointed out that the bottom line is, the district can't be spending more money than it is taking in.

Recent developments at Hulan L. Whitson Elementary School obviated the need to cut staffing there by 1.5 FTE positions.

Third-grade teacher Paul Demchuk announced last month his plan to retire at the end of the current school year, and his position will not be filled. Then, last Thursday, the board approved a teacher's request to teach only part-time next year.

The cumulative effect of these staffing changes -- which are driven by enrollment uncertainty -- will result in budget savings of $350,000 next year and a reserve fund balance of $300,000.

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