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Emmetsburg School Board Approves Staff Changes To Increase Savings

By Staff | Mar 4, 2010

Saving money through the reduction of a position to half-time was discussed by the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education during their meeting Feb. 15, at the high school/middle school library.

“We’ve had six retirees,” Superintendent John Joynt explained, referring to the early retirements of Sue Brown (special education), Karen Porath (family consumer science), Sharon Hobart (special education), Cynthia Berkland (special education), Sandy Leonard (art), and Linda Jones (language arts), which will take effect at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. “We’d like to advertise for a family consumer science teacher and a high school special education teacher.”

Joynt explained that he felt the district could reduce the art instructor to half-time by eliminating the morning sections of Emmetsburg Catholic School students. The Catholic School has been notified of this option, and ideas are being generated to maintain art education within the proposed schedule.

“We’d really only need a half-time art position, which is a pretty big change,” Joynt said.

The administration is also working on a schedule that would reduce two special education instructors. A high school position may be absorbed by high school staff, and the middle school position may be filled with a transfer from the elementary building. The district is advertising in-house to fill a middle school language arts vacancy with current staff.

 “Really, the only curriculum change at this time is half-time art,” said Joynt. “Plus, we keep looking at neighboring districts and sharing opportunities.”

“So how much are we hoping to save by going to a part-time art teacher?” asked Laure Egland, board member. “Do we have a dollar amount in mind?”

“The last figure I saw was from a very veteran teacher to a first or second year teacher,” said Joynt. “It’s close to $30,000, including benefits.”

Joynt explained that the district has been overspending in special education, and has been looking at ways to reduce special education.

“We think we can absorb nearly two positions there,” Joynt noted.

Board member Tammy Naig wondered about the total amount that would be saved with the early retirements and staff changes.

“It’s like $150,000,” answered Joynt.

“That was kind of our plan so we wouldn’t have to look at a staff member and say ‘your position has been eliminated’,” said Board President Karla Anderson. “We’ve been looking at ways of trying to save in the budget without affecting the curriculum or students.”

Joynt added that that is the benefit of an early retirement policy.

“Handing out pink slips to teachers tears a community apart,” Joynt noted. “We need to take advantage of the early retirement policy and reduce where we can.”

“I think we’re trying to be proactive so we don’t have to take aggressive steps in the future,” said Anderson. “We know in 2011-2012, we’re looking at some pretty drastic cuts in funding.”

With no more discussion, the board approved the reduction of the art position to half-time.