By Jeff Waters
Suwannee County Schools will be 37 teachers short when classes resume Monday. Bill Brothers, district director of personnel, said that 41 jobs will be left unfilled from the 2007-08 school year. Thirty-seven of those are teaching positions.
Brothers said the positions were left open by retirements, resignations, non-renewed contracts and discontinued grants. The much celebrated Culinary Arts program at the Suwannee-Hamilton Technical center was cut due to a discontinued grant recently.
Brothers said the savings to the district will be about $2.1 million - almost exactly the amount by which the district's budget was cut by the state this year. That means the district isn't looking at cutting any other positions.
"I am confident that our current teachers and staff are most capable of rising to the challenge and will continue to meet the needs of all children," Brothers said in an e-mail interview. "It is impossible to lose 40 or so positions and not feel a huge void at the classroom level. We lost a lot of experienced teachers last year."
Brothers noted that the vacancies were "not equitably distributed throughout school sites and within job classifications." That meant that a number of teachers had to be reassigned to meet the needs of each school. Brothers said that 13 teachers were affected. Four teachers made voluntary requests to be transferred to other schools; an Exceptional Student Education teacher was reassigned to Branford Elementary School from Branford High School; three teachers went to Suwannee Middle School from Suwannee High School; three teachers were transferred from Branford High School, one to SMS and two to SHS. Five teachers were transferred from SMS to various elementary schools around the county and one teacher was reassigned to Suwannee Primary School from Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center. In addition, a district administrator was reassigned to Suwannee Intermediate School.
School administrators do not yet know how the lost positions will affect class size reduction mandates. The district has until next school term, 2009-10, to meet individual room level requirements. As of now, the district only has to meet student-teacher ratios for individual schools as a whole.
"You just have to work with what you are given," Mel McMullen, assistant supervisor of instructional services, said Monday of class size reduction. "But hopefully we are still going to meet it, we are very mindful (about it) and that is our goal."
Brothers said the impact on class size will not be known until students actually start class, but he believes the economy could actually help a little. "One could assume that it will be impossible to meet (class size reduction) at the classroom level with the cuts," Brothers said in an e-mail interview. "However, the economy has an unusual effect on population shifts in rural communities based on job markets ... urban flight which could translate into declining enrollment."
Funding cuts mean vacant positions weren't filled
By Jeff Waters
- Branford News
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