By Allison Selk
Seeking to reduce spending to slow the growth of a deficit budget, the School District 308 Board of Education voted Monday evening to approve layoffs affecting several administrative and teaching positions for the 2017-18 school year.
The unanimous board votes came before a standing room audience of concerned parents and staff members in the community room at Oswego East High School.
Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin said the administrative positions cut would be the equivalent of a 16 percent reduction "this year alone." Sparlin added that the outgoing administrators' workload will be handled by remaining administrative staff.
The board then voted to authorize the dismissal and non-reemployment of 16 first year and 22 second-year probationary teachers.
“As you all know we re-drew the (school enrollment) boundaries (and) we moved programs this year, which automatically creates a shifting of positions as well as some efficiencies with our staffing. We have a declining enrollment in the elementary and junior high, which means we need fewer staff and we are also trying to mitigate deficits, which results in fewer positions as well. For these reasons the board is being asked to approve this resolution,” Sparlin said.
Sparlin said class sizes will not change much next year school year, despite the elimination of the teaching positions.
Sparlin said currently for the 2017-18 school year, class averages across the district are as follows, kindergarten 23, first grade at 22, second grade at 24, third grade at 25, and fourth and fifth grades at 25-26 students. He said these numbers reflect the decline in enrollment the district predicts.
After some discussion, the board chose to approve the teacher layoffs under the condition that class sizes would be kept the same and not increase.
In a final ballot, the board voted to authorize the dismissal and non-reemployment of 13 probationary part-time teaches and teachers hired under a temporary contract.
Prior to Monday's board meeting, Sparlin said there were several reasons he recommended the layoffs to the board.
"It's a combination of a few different things," he said. "We redrew our school district boundaries this year, and by redrawing our boundaries we're able to create efficiencies with our staffing, which accounts for some of the staff reductions. You do that by creating a better balance within our student attendance areas that create those types of efficiencies in staffing. Part of the boundary process also was having our kindergarten students go back to their home schools. That also created some efficiencies in our staffing. And at the last board meeting I made some recommendations in regards to increasing class sizes, and whenever we increase class size that results in fewer sections, which means fewer staff."