KUSD Board OKs plan to cut teachers

53 will lose their jobs after this year, 18 more the following year

KINGMAN - In a unanimous vote, the Kingman Unified School District Governing Board decided to approve right-sizing ratios and maximum class sizes.

The Tuesday decision will result in the elimination of 53 teachers, one district-level administrator, one teacher-on-assignment and 12.5 classified staff positions for the 2009-2010 academic year. The following year will see the loss of an additional 18 teachers.

The vote to reduce the approximate 380 current teachers by 71 came in response to the approximate $1.09 billion in state budget cuts during the next two years.

One member of the public spoke out against the reduction of teachers.

"Ten schools and two assistant superintendents," Tommy Comins said, "that's overkill to me."

Beyond describing the district as top heavy, Comins called for reduction in administrative staff at the schools.

"Take a good look at what we have to do because we all have to pitch in because times are changing," Comins said.

By right sizing, the district will adjust its current student-to-teacher ratio, which is 22:1 for kindergarten to third grade, 25:1 for fourth grade to 12th grade.

Right sizing is determining the appropriate staffing levels for all employee groups based on the number of students, schools and employees, then making staffing changes to match a formula the district based off of the Clark County School District.

The ratios are an average, Superintendent Roger Jacks said. Some classrooms will go above the number, while others will be below.

KUSD is adjusting the student-to-teacher ratio to 22:1 for kindergarten through second grade, 25:1 for third to fifth grade, 28:1 for sixth to eighth grade and 30:1 for ninth to 12th grade.

Each elementary school would have one administrative assistant, attendance technician/secretary, clerk, health attendant/nurse, library technician and principal.

Special education secretaries and assistants, kindergarten assistants, speech/language assistants and assistant principals would depend upon the number of students at the school.

The move will save the district approximately $2 million.

This formula was established for the foreseeable future, though it isn't the only ratio the district must adopt in the economic crunch. The board approved a maximum class size until the budget cuts end.

The maximum would put student to teacher ratios at 25:1 for kindergarten to second-grade classes, 27:1 for third to fifth grades, 30:1 for sixth to eighth grades and 32:1 for ninth through 12th grades.

The move would add up to approximately $608,000 in savings for the district by eliminating 18 teachers.

"We're still looking at a $1.7 million deficit we don't have an answer for," Jacks said.

Now with the board's approval for ratios, the district has outlined a timeline.

In March, the district will notify the teachers and administrators of their non-renewals. The same month, the district will have final numbers for the 100-day average daily membership and state budget.

The administration is developing procedures for the reduction in force and will meet again with principals to identify candidates for reduction.

A group of teachers likely facing termination are at the kindergarten level.

The state Legislature is proposing the elimination of funding for full-day kindergarten. Rather than approving half-day kindergarten or continuing full-day kindergarten for the 2009-2010 academic year, the board decided to table the item until the next meeting.

If the board decides to approve half-day kindergarten beginning next academic year, the 12 teachers that would have their contracts terminated must be notified by the April 15 deadline established by the Arizona Revised Statutes.

Even with the pending personnel cuts, the board approved Assistant Superintendent Wanda Oden and Executive Assistant Jennifer Dixon to travel to Colorado and Wyoming for teacher recruiting fairs between March 24 and 28.

The vote was 3-1, with board member Terri McMullen casting the sole vote against. Board member Pat Carlin Jr. wasn't present for the meeting.

"I'm having a hard time with recruiting if we're laying off teachers," McMullen said.

While the district used to go on five out-of-state recruitment trips, this year they trimmed it down to two, Jacks said.

Board member Bill Goodale expressed his trust in the administration's decision to head out of state.

With expenses funded by a grant, the recruitment is focused on obtaining special education and mathematics teachers - positions currently short in the district and across the state. "It doesn't have to do with where the money is coming from," McMullen said.

"It is the message."