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Death by a Thousand Cuts

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Just how DO you cut a teacher?

The state is cutting funding for public schools. The levy has failed. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to cut 71 certified and 64 classified staff, an approximate one-third reduction in employees. How do you start?

Given you must cut approximately one in every three employees, you might just gather everyone together and play duck, duck, goose, eliminating all the geese. Not that you’d be allowed to, but it has the virtue of simplicity.

Instead, you must determine which programs you will cut. Because all extra-curricular programs were funded by the levy, you can eliminate all coaches, all publication teachers, all Aca-Deca teachers, the band and music instructors, art and drama, dance and cheerleading, photography and athletic directors.

Unfortunately, most of these positions are not full time—they are ‘extra duties’ that staff pick up in order to work a full time position. And you might want to figure out a way to keep some music or drama classes while eliminating performances.

The district requires that certain subjects be taught for a student to graduate—math, science, English, economics, health and humanities, history, speech, American government, practical arts and physical education. Staff certified to teach those classes move to the top of the list. Teachers who are not certified to teach any of those subjects move to the bottom, regardless of their years of seniority. If those teachers not certified in the subjects required for graduation meet your target number of cuts, you’re done.

If not, then you must work harder. Local school districts set higher graduation requirements than those set by Idaho colleges for enrolling students. You can cut local standards by eliminating classes not required by the state standards.

Then you’re left with seniority. By law, you must cut those positions lowest on the totem pole.

Bear in mind, however, that all teachers are not paid alike. By cutting from the bottom, you must actually cut more positions. Cutting brand new teachers making $31,700 will require more cuts to achieve your goal than cutting a top-paid teacher earning $53,000.

Good luck.

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Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

Lake Pend Oreille School District, budget, funding, Supplemental levy

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