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4/18/2012 11:26:00 AM
Valparaiso School Board trims teaching staff because of budget shortfall

Diane Kubiak, Post-Tribune Correspondent

VALPARAISO — Three teachers will receive tentative layoff notices, the Valparaiso School Board decided Tuesday night, as part of a plan to address a budget shortfall in excess of $3 million.

In addition, nine and a half additional positions will go by way of attrition. “The 14 retirements have helped us,” said board member Karl Cender.

“Three is painful, but we don’t know what the revenue will be for 2013.”

Of the 12.5 positions eliminated, most fell to the math and English departments at 2.5 each.

Other departments lost one each, except for music, which lost two.

Only two elementary positions were eliminated, one of which disappeared due to a large fifth-grade class going to middle school next year.

By not filling all of the positions vacated by retirements, class sizes will increase by one or two students per section in the high school.

Some teachers in the high school will “bump” teachers in middle grades, although no currently employed elementary teachers were displaced by such shifts, Superintendent Andrew Melin said.

In a process laid out in December, when the administration predicted as many as 22 teachers might be laid off, the board and the Valparaiso Teachers Association laid out a process they agreed would be fair to all employees regardless of grade level, academic department or category of employment. “We could have RIF’ed deeper, but we promised we would not RIF certain programs,” said Melin said of the reduction-in-force notices.

Melin said the state will reduce the district’s 2013 General Fund by another half million dollars, according to the formula adopted by the legislature. Because of that additional loss of revenue, Melin did not factor an expected half million dollar increase from full-day kindergarten into revenue for teachers salaries. The kindergarten money doesn’t arrive until December. “It should not be touched,” he said.

Valparaiso Teachers Association President Charlie Foster said the core team involved in cutting $1,050,000 from the teacher salary budget line followed the procedures and objectives laid out in December in assisting with a solution to the shortfall.

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