Principals, assistants avoid cuts in budget

More teacher evaluations and discipline issues are two main reasons why building administration positions were spared when $13.6 million in budget cuts were made for the 2011–12 school year, School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said.

Although 282 district employees will be affected by budget cuts, only one building administrator will be affected, an assistant principal at Fruita Monument High School who will work part time.

Schultz said reducing assistant principal or principal positions would be difficult because those employees evaluate newer teachers at least twice a year and evaluate non-probationary teachers once every three years. When Senate Bill 191, which focuses on increasing teacher and administrator effectiveness, takes effect a year from now, those evaluations will increase to at least once a year for every teacher, regardless of experience.

“In a way it indirectly drives the number of administrators because at a high school you’re going to have more than 100 teachers, and that’s more than one or two administrators can handle” evaluating, Schultz said.

Schultz said evaluations “are more than a checklist” and include looking at data with a teacher, talking about best practices and observing classroom teaching.

Schools also have experienced more discipline issues in recent years, Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said. As of April 30, for example, there had been eight more expulsions from the district than the previous year’s total of 55 between August and April.

DeVita said assistant principals can help with discipline issues so that principals can focus on instructional issues.

“Otherwise, the principal would focus on the crisis of the day and not instructional leadership,” she said.

Administrative positions were mostly safe at the building level, but 36.5 administrative and support roles were eliminated from central administration. Most of those jobs were at the administrative level, Schultz said. The district reorganized the curriculum department, made cuts to library services and downgraded some positions in the English Language Learner area to make the reductions, DeVita said.

“Everyone’s taking on more responsibility” to cover lost positions and hours, Schultz said.

As with administrative positions, it’s hard to cut teaching jobs and keep class sizes reasonable, DeVita said. Fifty-two teaching jobs were on the chopping block, but Schultz expects most of those teachers to find new jobs in the district because of retirements and resignations. All but two or three of those teachers have been reassigned, he said, and more spots may open because teachers have until July 15 to retire for next school year.

The people with the least-promising future in the district may be the 116 reading aids who will lose their jobs, Schultz said. Some of those people did not have a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree, which makes it hard for them to qualify for a different position in the district.

“We’re not going to have places to plug in those people as readily,” Schultz said.

Of the 200 classified employees who lost their jobs as everything from secretaries to instructional aids, 120 qualified for a recall list, which entitles them to first shot at any other newly opened positions in the district they’re qualified to do. Only people who lost their entire job, including the reading assistants, are on the list, while people who had their hours trimmed are not, unless they chose to give up their remaining hours.

All remaining employees will take a pay cut next year, including Schultz, who is allowed a salary hike each year in his contract, but he chose for the second consecutive year not to take it. Schultz said, on average, most people will take a 1.5 percent reduction in pay by losing three days from their contract.

People with contracts during the school year will take those days off on Nov. 21 and 22 and Aug. 16. Year-round employees will take the days off sporadically with other employees with similar jobs.


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