Teachers want different cuts

March 17, 2003 12:00 am

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Alternative budget cuts proposed by teachers won't save enough money to solve the district's anticipated budget deficit, administration officials say.

The teacher's plan, presented during recent budget meetings, proposes slashing administrative hours and positions to save up to 14 teacher jobs.

"The district has lumped everything all together for a worst-case scenario from the state and they've issued pink slips for 66 positions to take care of everything without looking elsewhere," said Ryan Bouchard, president of the Del Norte Teachers Association (DNTA). "If they're going to do that, we're going to make sure that when May 15 comes around, they have a plan in place and are not just going to lay off all the teachers." May 15 is the deadline for final layoff notices.

Administration officials, however, say the alternative plan suggested by teachers is based on faulty assumptions.

Assistant Superintendent Rodney Jahn, the district's business director, compiled several budget alternatives earlier this week based on teacher suggestions. But Jahn said teachers are claiming mistaken savings through a reduction of the district's self-insurance fund.

The $200,000 in the employees health fund, Jahn said, can't be counted against the budget shortfall. Bouchard said it should.

According to the DNTA interpretation, the district can make alternative cuts and lay off 14 fewer teachers. By Jahn's calculations, the same alternatives put the district $47,184 further in debt.

The teacher proposal includes keeping class sizes one child smaller in grades four to 12 , reducing layoff notices to teachers from 66 to 52, retaining music teacher staff, cutting the administration work-year from five to 10 days, freezing all general fund travel for one year, reducing district office supplies by 25 percent and cutting an additional administrative position beyond what has already been proposed.

District officials concede those cuts could be made, and they say some may be.

In the end, the administration has said all cuts have negative consequences, and they have tried to fairly spread the burden among all school departments while keeping educational objectives as whole as possible.

The district is anticipating approximately $2.4 million in reductions during phase-one of state cuts. Another $2 million is anticipated for phase-two.

Initial layoff notices were sent out this week to certificated employees.