Schools find out if budget cuts affect them

Friday, March 26, 2010 | 5:17 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA  — Eight people in Columbia Public Schools are unsure where they will be working next year after finding out they are among 13positions cut in February by the Columbia School Board.

The district is working to match these individuals with other positions they are qualified to fill.

Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Jack Jensen said the decision about who would be affected followed consideration of enrollment information and recent kindergarten registration. The 13 FTE (full-time equivalent) positions consist of 12 full-time employees and two half-time employees.

Six of these people — all classroom teachers and an assistant principal at West Boulevard Elementary — are in the clear. The district also anticipates vacancies from teachers' resignations and retirements, and the assistant principal from West Boulevard Elementary will become principal of Midway Elementary.

Jensen said that every year there are changes and movements among school positions, and he anticipates more than 50 open positions by next year. The district must now fill five fewer positions; no classroom teacher will lose his or her job.

Jensen also said the district is trying to find other spots for the eight who discovered their jobs are being cut next year.

The total FTE cuts break down this way:

  • 5 classroom teacher positions (district-wide)
  • 1 assistant principal (West Boulevard Elementary)
  • 3 administrative assistants (Lee, Grant and Benton Elementary)
  • 3 home-school communicators (Blue Ridge, Parkade and Shepard Boulevard Elementary)
  • One FTE position, including two half-time discipline aids (Fairview and Derby Ridge Elementary)

Although 13 FTEs were cut, half-time positions at Grant Elementary and Lee Elementary were added for next year in support areas such as instructional aids. These added positions bring the total to 12 FTE positions cut. Half-time positions do not indicate a part-time job, but responsibility and compensation are less, Jensen said.

“The most difficult thing in all this is that it makes it appear that these people and programs are not important, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Jensen said. “We are just not able to continue to maintain that same level of support that we were able to do in better budget times."

While budget cuts have altered the composition of the school district, Jensen said they are working to retain as many people as possible.

“Although we are cutting these positions, we’re working hard to try to place those people in another position that takes into account their strengths and their desires,” he said.

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