RCS Suffers Mid-Year Budget Cuts

RCS+Suffers+Mid-Year+Budget+Cuts

Katie Wolf

As the new semester begins, so does the unprecedented action of mid-year layoffs for some RCS staff.

A budget deficit of $1.2 million due to a miscalculation in the estimated student enrollment number has led to the layoff of three Rochester Adams teachers, saddening students and staff and causing scheduling issues for students as well.

Before the start of the 2014-2015 school year, it was projected that the school district would have 15,136 students. The district hired and appointed teachers based on that estimate. When enrollment fell short, with only 14,982 students, budget cuts became necessary.

“Typically we are within one or two tenths of a percent in our estimation. This year we are about one percent off,” said Douglas Hill, President of the Rochester Education Association (REA).

There is no easy explanation for the miscalculation. Many factors contributed to the district’s reduced enrollment. First of all, the district is aging, and there are fewer young families and children in Rochester. Additionally, houses in the area are becoming more expensive, leading older families with non-school aged children to move into the area. Additionally, with the economy improving overall, more parents are enrolling their children in private schools. As these factors continue to be an issue, reduced enrollment will continue to be a problem.

“We are projected to lose about 350 students over the next five years,” said Dr. Robert Shaner, Rochester Community Schools Superintendent.

Adams experienced most of the layoff notices since this school had the highest number of  most recent hirings.  At Adams, layoffs will involve World Religions teacher Mr. Aaron Mize, English teacher Ms. Rebecca Couch, and math teacher Ms. Jackie Claeys, all of whom were hired for part-time positions this year. The loss of these teachers is based solely on budget concerns.

There is, however, still hope that these teachers may be coming back next year.

“I think the chances are pretty good that they will come back in future years,” said Hill.

To compensate for the loss of these teachers, many of the remaining teachers’ schedules were changed. Some teachers are finding themselves having to make some quick adjustments because they will now be teaching classes they hadn’t anticipated.

“Around twelve teachers had their schedules changed due to the layoffs,” said Assistant Principal Chuck May.

In addition to teacher schedule changes, students’ schedules and schedule protocol have been altered.

“All three high schools looked for classes that could either be closed or combined to make adjustments for the budget,” said Principal Mr. Kevin Cumming.

Classes in the math department specifically have been switched, so students have seen changes in their second semester schedules over the two last weeks.

“Many departments have been affected by these changes; however, the math department has had the most personnel changes. Therefore, students have had changes in their math teachers,” said May.

Furthermore, students are no longer permitted to make schedule changes for the upcoming semester due to the loss of teaching staff, which has led to fewer class sections available and fewer options for students.

“Schedule changes will only be made if a mistake was made or if a senior is unable to complete their credits with their current schedule,” said Adams Counselor Mrs. Sarah Falkowski.

The effects of the budget problems, however, spread beyond Adams, with the entire district experiencing the effects of these cuts. According to Chief Human Resource Officer Beth Davis, district-wide, five teachers will be laid off and three teachers will have their hours reduced beginning second semester.  Additionally, two maintenance and grounds employees will be laid off.  Several secretaries and paraeducators had their hours reduced as well.

 

“We were very excited to hire three great teachers just before school started and we were very sad when we were informed that they were to be laid off because of the budget adjustments. In a short period of time all three teachers have made a significant impact on the students at Adams and they have been a great addition to the Adams family. Our hearts go out to them;they will be missed,” said Mr. Cumming.
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to report that Mr. Mize has accepted a position with the AHS Social Studies Department that became available when Mr. Casey Wescott took a position at RHS as interim assistant principal.