Teachers cut amid budget concerns

Brookside Learning Center

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ALBERT LEA, MN — An area school district is being forced to do something they do not want to do. Teaching positions are on the chopping block all because of budget concerns.

About ten teaching positions are being cut from the Albert Lea school district and five of them are specialized instruction teachers.

“April is the worst time of the year to be a superintendent and it’s not just the weather outside,” said Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk.

Funk must deal with next school year’s budget now and thanks to state regulations, that means telling teachers they may not have a job next year.

“We have so many days that we have before the end of the school year that we have to notify teachers whether or not they’ll be coming back,” Funk said, “In the meantime, the finance statute, so the finance rules for the government, we don’t know what our finances are until the legislature is finished in May.”

So the district is forced to play a guessing game.

“We have to make budgeting determinations guesstimating what the legislature’s going to do, so to be safe and to be fiscally prudent we take a very conservative approach,” Funk said.

School leaders want to make sure they are as upfront as they can be with their employees.

“We need to make those cuts to be conservative and make sure that people don’t believe that they’re going to have a job when you don’t know for sure that you’re going to or not, so it’s a process you have to go through. A necessary process but not necessarily a fun process,” said Jim Quiram who is in human resources for the district.

He says it can all lead to quality teachers leaving.

“A lot of times, unfortunately, what may happen is we have some people that once the cut is made, begin to look for another job and so, if they’re a first year teacher, they may go find one that they’re sure about,” Quiram said.

The positions that get cut are not the easiest to replace.

“We move some of our best teachers into these positions and they can come in and provide advice to the classroom teacher on different types of instruction and the other thing is they’re really good at working with the kids,” Funk said.

Funk said he is hopeful that at least half of the positions, if not more, will be filled again, but he said they are going into next school year planning as if they will not have them.

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