Board OKs staff cuts
By JUDY SHERARD
Sixteen Hays USD 489 certified staff members will receive official notice today their contracts won't be renewed for the 2014-15 school year.
The board of education voted 6-0 Monday night to follow the administration's recommendation to non-renew contracts in an effort to make up a $1.3 million shortfall.
"We're looking at how and where we can make up this big deficit, and it comes down to salaries are the big ticket items we have left," Superintendent Dean Katt said. "Cuts have been made in other areas for several years."
District officials estimate the job cuts will return $973,000 to the budget.
"I think it's a sad day in the state of Kansas for public education -- not only at the state level, but at USD 489. When you see all these positions cut and what that will do to our students, it's a sad day," Kathy Rome, KNEA Uniserve Director, said of the vote.
A few members of the large audience mentioned the effect the cuts would have on music programs in the schools.
"While some of the financial challenges come from the state level, some are directly related to past choices of financial expenditures of the administration and school board," JoAnn Jordan said.
Kevin Davidson has two sons in the district, an eighth-grader and a sophomore.
As a musician, Davidson is familiar with the music programs.
"The education they're providing our children is just unbelievable, and you don't want to change that. Please work with us," Davidson said.
Sally Klausmeyer became emotional as she talked about her two sons, who participate in vocal and orchestra programs.
"Please keep the quality in the music program," she said.
Katt said the cuts also could affect social studies, business, math, science, English/foreign language, PE and the library at Hays High School.
At Hays Middle School, English/language arts and math will be affected, and the library will share staff with the high school.
Elementary schools will cut two fifth-grade sections, one fourth-grade section and one third-grade section for a total of four sections, Katt said.
"None of these decisions concerning cuts, RIF (reduction in force) were taken lightly," Lance Bickle said.
"It's unfortunate the situation we're in," Josh Waddell said. "This is a blow to our school district which they (teachers being non-renewed) have nothing to do with this. As a member of the school board, I would apologize for this resolution that we're going to have to act upon."
"I've been on the board the longest. And it's embarrassing for me to sit up here and admit that I've been part of these decisions to get us into this financial mess. For that, I too, apologize," BOE president Greg Schwartz said. "These aren't final decisions in my mind. ... I want to see all the areas we can cut."
The district has been cutting supply budgets for several years, depending on teachers or home and school associations for funding, BOE vice president James Leiker said.
"It's time that us board members up here stand up and say we need to get this corrected," Leiker said. "I'm not in favor of it, but when we look at it district-wide, it's something that we gotta do."
Certified staff notified of non-renewal for cost savings included tenured teachers Joleen Cunningham and Jackie Leiker, O'Loughlin Elementary School. Non-tenured teachers are Ann Adams and Jessica Ammel, Hays High School; Allison Kitchen, Ruth Nolte, Carmen Simon and Carrie Tholstrup, Hays Middle School; Cassandra Bryant and Erin Flax, Wilson Elementary School; Leslie Karlin and Sarah Smith, O'Loughlin; Elizabeth Forinash and Tracy Roe-Archer, Lincoln Elementary School; Madison Mall and Jordan Ottley, Washington Elementary School. Some chose to resign.
Other personnel transactions included:
* Todd Linenberger, Westside Alternative School, non-renewed.
* Resignations from Mary Jo Chambers, HMS quiz bowl coach; Mayla Moore, bus driver; Clint Albers, Hays High assistant principal/athletic director; Ann Adams, Hays High teacher and swim coach; Cassandra Bryant, Wilson teacher; Brenna McComas, Learning Center ELL teacher; Samantha Ward, Lincoln after-school director; Tara Marshall, Lincoln speech-language pathologist; Lindy McDaniel, Roosevelt early childhood special ed; Jordan Ottley and Madison Mall, Washington teachers; Sarah Smith, O'Loughlin teacher; Anna Huynh, Westside special-ed teacher; and Calissa Engler, Munjor ECC teacher.
* Retirement from Nancy Stramel, Wilson/Lincoln counselor;
* Chris Michaelis has been employed as Hays High assistant principal/athletic director.