Schools to oust 8 gym teachers
District 51 middle school physical education teachers were informed this week some of them will have to take another position in the district this fall or find another job.
Eight middle school certified positions — one at each District 51 middle school — will be eliminated as part of 2012–13 budget cuts. Elementary schools and high schools will have to eliminate four and seven certified positions, respectively. Certified positions include teachers, counselors and librarians.
While the elementary and high school reductions are still being discussed, many middle school principals chose to eliminate one of their two physical education teaching positions as part of reductions, according to District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita. DeVita said she was not sure Tuesday how many principals chose that option or which positions the other middle schools chose to eliminate.
Tenured teachers affected by the cuts will be offered other positions in the district, DeVita said, and non-tenured certified employees will likely have the opportunity to apply for those positions, all of which will be vacant this fall due to employees retiring, quitting or being fired for non-budgetary reasons. DeVita said reductions will not impact employees’ pay if they accept another position in the district.
Middle schools have two physical education teachers, one male and one female, so that teachers of the same gender can be with students in a locker room. DeVita said schools who opt to have one physical education teacher next year will hire an instructional assistant to monitor the locker room used by students of the opposite gender from the teacher. She added students will still have access to physical education and get the number of physical education hours required by state law.
“We have to do reductions. We are trying to be creative and do it in a way that doesn’t have as significant an impact on students,” DeVita said.
Fruita Middle School physical education teacher Thomas Cox, who has been with the district 18 years, said he isn’t sure he will take another position in the district after being told Monday his position will not exist this fall. He said he is disappointed physical education positions are being eliminated while childhood obesity rates are increasing nationwide.
“This was a blind-side,” Cox said. “It’s not the right thing to do for the kids.”
District 51 School Board members are expected to approve a list of budget reductions Tuesday, although a full budget will not be adopted until June. The board plans to reduce the 2012–13 budget by $2 million to $4 million to cover reduced funding as a result of an anticipated enrollment decline, a mandate increase in retirement benefit contributions, and an optional addition to the district’s maintenance and project fund.
Other budget changes are expected to include a 15 percent reduction to district central administration and the reinstatement of a “step” to teacher salary schedules. A step is a raise based on one year of continued service at the district. Steps have been frozen for three years. Five unpaid days removed this year from all district employees’ contracts are not expected to be reinstated next year.
DeVita said money has been set aside for district employees other than teachers to receive a possible pay increase as well, although it has not yet been decided how that money will be spent.