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Teachers, residents show support





It was standing room only Monday night in the Toepfer Board Room as the Hays USD 489 Board of Education met for a work session to discuss staff cuts.

Many in the audience were teachers, but there were some parents as well.

"I think this is more people in a room than when we closed Kennedy (Middle School), or pretty close, so obviously people care about this," board president Greg Schwartz said.

A total of 16 certified staff members have been notified their contracts will not be renewed because of a reduction in force.

The board is looking for ways to make up a $1.3 million shortfall next year, and will be asked to approve resolutions for the non-renewal notices at the April 21 board meeting.

The staff cuts are expected to add $973,000 to the budget. Administrators have proposed other cuts, as well as fee increases.

Other than non-renewing district contracts, everything else is proposals, all subject to change, Schwartz said.

"The only reason that the teachers were notified is because of state law that requires us to notify them by the third Friday in May. We notified (them) early," he said.

Schwartz asked for a list of programs and courses from each school, including what is mandated by state statute and what isn't, and their costs.

"I know we offer a whole bunch of programs," he said. "At some time, those had been luxuries."

Central office administrators met with building principals to come up with the plan for cuts.

"We're going to make a big decision for this district for years to come," Schwartz said. "I think we need to make it with all the information that's available. ... I want to make sure we're all taking ownership in this.

Josh Waddell asked about central office staff.

"I've got this list of 16 teachers. Is there anything in the central office that has been looked at? Has that been addressed?" he said.

Superintendent Dean Katt said certified staff positions were scrutinized first because of the notification deadline, and other positions also will be considered.

"We're going to get ridiculed on this whichever direction we go, and I want to make sure I've gotten all the information so I can defend my position," Schwartz said.