Janesville School Board votes to cut teachers
WCLO's Beth Wheelock reports on Wednesday's vote.
JANESVILLE The Janesville School Board voted unanimously to cut the equivalent of about 130 full-time positions Wednesday, most of them teachers.
The board also voted to issue layoff notices to cover those cuts, but how many notices was not clear.
The district could refill some of those positions later if money becomes available, officials said.
The board's actions leave some teachers with difficult decisions to make, said Dave Parr, president of the Janesville Education Association.
Speaking after the meeting, Parr explained that a teacher whose position is eliminated could bump another teacher out of that teacher's job.
A counselor, for example, might have a license to be a math teacher, and she could bump a math teacher who has less seniority.
But once the counselor takes the new job, she will not be able to go back to being a counselor, even if that's the job she loves to do, Parr said.
The only other option would be for the counselor to resign with no guarantee of being rehired, Parr said.
"People are put into kind of a tough spot," school board President Bill Sodemann said.
Parr said he worked with the administration all day Wednesday and would continue to work on a solution to the problem. Superintendent Karen Schulte expressed willingness to find that solution.
Schulte said her highest priority at the moment is to find ways to save money elsewhere so more staff positions can be saved. At the same time, however, she has to be mindful of the need to fill a $13.4 million deficit projected for next year's budget.
"I am not done digging for money. I have some great ideas coming in from staff," Schulte said after the meeting.
The board had to act this month because the teachers contract requires layoff notices to be issued by May 1.
A source of funding that might save some jobs is the district's reserves. The board has yet to decide whether to use the so-called Fund 10 balance.
Layoff notices will be delivered to teachers in person by their principals, said Steve Sperry, director of human services. That could happen as soon as Friday, but it might be Monday or Tuesday before the notices are ready, Sperry told the board.
Board member Peggy Sheridan said 130 was higher than the 106 position cuts that had been discussed earlier. She asked for assurance that if funding becomes available, positions will be reinstated.
Schulte responded that she would like to keep as many positions as possible.
Murray said the impending layoffs force him to look deeper into the district budget, including the need for a Chinese language program that was started recently in the elementary and middle schools.
"If Chinese has to go, it has to go, even if it's a popular thing," said board member Lori Stottler.
Sodemann said that if the "Save Janesville Schools" fundraiser is successful, or if the board votes to use some of its reserves, the picture could change.
Votes for the positions cuts and to issue layoff notices were both 7-0. Board members Greg Ardrey and Peter D. Severson could not make it to the meeting.
Here's the list of jobs the Janesville School Board eliminated Wednesday:
-- Two nurses.
-- Three school resource officers. These are Janesville police officers for whom the district pays part of their salary.
-- Two reading-and-writing specialists.
-- 17 learning-support teachers.
-- 19 librarians, also known as library media specialists.
-- 25 counselors.
-- Nine Title 1 teachers. These positions are part of a federal program to help children in low-income areas. This includes seven full-time and four part-time positions.)
-- One literacy coach.
-- One program-support teacher.
These are mostly teaching positions have been used to bolster the district's efforts to improve student achievement and raise test scores.
Another 50 full-time-equivalent teaching positions from all or most grade levels were eliminated based on lower enrollments.