Fayette school board 5.28.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Four Fayette school district residents sought details about recent layoffs when they visited the May 18 board of education meeting.

Kandi Lemley said she was serving as a spokesperson for several parents and PTO members who are concerned about the layoffs of “two very, very good teachers.”

Lemley said she knows everyone is told they must do more with less, but she’s wondering if other options were thoroughly considered instead of these layoffs.

She suggested that the second grade students are “going to get lost” with only one teacher for the class.

Board member Kirk Keiser pointed out that next year’s second grade class is the smallest in the school.

“Two of us [board members] have kids in that class so it wasn’t taken lightly,” he said.

Lemley asked if staff reductions were also considered at the high school level since so many of the cuts are from the elementary school.

“I’m just coming from the outside,” she said, “but it looks like we’re going to leave everyone there [at the high school] because it’s more important.”

She wondered if students might be able to adjust easier at the high school level. She recalls having just one teacher for music and band when she was a student, and only one English teacher.

“If we start whacking out high school programs, it will affect college prep and kids will stop coming here,” said superintendent of schools Russell Griggs. “We have to maintain programs to give kids a reason to stay here.”

Griggs also pointed out secondary teachers must work in the area where they are certified.

Audience member Julia Ruger said the enrollment hasn’t changed much over the years, but the staff is larger. She said there are more administrative assistants now and an elementary school guidance counselor that wasn’t part of the staff years ago.

Griggs said the elementary counseling position is being cut back and the secondary counselor will take on some new duties next year.

“State and federal mandates are much greater now,” he said. “There’s been an exponential increase.”

Lemley wondered if the athletic director position could be taken over by a teacher, as in the past. That approach would take away some teaching time, Griggs said, and would not bring significant savings.

The superintendent said that cuts were made over a broad area, including paring back his time on the job which will save the district $69,000 next year.

“Are we concerned about class size and test scores? You bet we are,” Griggs said, “but the district will soon be in a deficit and that’s illegal.”

If voters were asked to pass a levy, 12.6 new mills would be needed—a 36 percent increase. In addition, an existing seven-mill levy will expire soon. Combined with a new levy, that would lead to a massive tax increase, Griggs said.

“I can’t predict, but I expect there will be more cuts in the future,” he said. “We share your concern. The board didn’t go about this lightly. Questions were asked on each line.

“There have been tough times before. You go through cycles. Unfortunately this is the worst one since the Depression.”

Board president Paula Schaffner said that class sizes change from year to year, in reference to cuts and split classes at the elementary school.

“You try to use your money as wisely as you can,” she said.

“We’re certainly going to need help from community members during tough times.” added board member David Brinegar.

“It would be a good time to bolster the volunteer program,” Schaffner said.

Griggs thanked the visitors for their concern, noting they might be the first parents who have attended a board meeting during the 18 months that he’s worked for Fayette.

ENROLLMENT—Elementary principal Dr. Luann Boyer told the board that current enrollment for next year’s kindergarten stands at 32 and the second grade class is predicted to be 24. Eight children have signed up for summer school. She would like to see that number increase to about 30.

COACHES—The board approved coaching positions for the fall season: varsity golf, Ryan Colegrove; junior high golf, Todd Mitchell; cross country, Bryan Stambaugh; assistant cross country, Matt Maginn; volleyball, Danni Keefer; JV volleyball, Alissa Stockburger; and junior high volleyball, Sarah Skolmowski.

EXTENSION—The contract for secondary principal Dan Feasel was renewed for three years.

INSURANCE—The cost of liability insurance increased despite a cheaper insurance plan. Since there is more to cover in the new, more expensive facility, the overall cost of insurance increased.

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