WCSD: Furloughs minimal

While the summer is a busy time for the Warren County School District, there might be no piece to the puzzle of getting schools open in the fall more complicated than determining who will teach and work where.

“This is a busy time in terms of looking at HR (human resources) issues,” Amy Stewart, director of administrative support services, said.

There were many moving parts on personnel reports presented to the school board’s Personnel, Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities Committee on Monday evening.

Recommendations were made to suspend three teacher contracts and not renew three others. Non-renewal addresses staff that have not yet obtained tenure.

But it is likely that many of those will be called back for positions in the fall.

“I am incredibly optimistic that we will end up with one or two teacher furloughs or non-renewals,” Stewart said, indicating that the district will be “able to get almost all of our teachers back. That’s the goal.”

But what enables that to happen is realignment, which Stewart called the “big Sudoku puzzle we have been working on,” figuring out what positions will be needed and where.

The possibility exists for several kindergarten teaching positions to be added “to create the most parity” across the district in terms of class sizes.

Projected kindergarten enrollment prepared for the meeting shows two kindergarten teachers at Youngsville Elementary Middle School for 60 students and five at Warren Area Elementary Center for 148, putting kindergarten classes at both schools in the realm of 30 students each.

The committee took action to approve new position request at WAEC for kindergarten. Stewart asked that the request be amended to include one at WAEC and YEMS. She said she expects that “we will wind up needing one in both places eventually.”

She explained that administrative guidelines focus on keeping K-2 class sizes between 11 and 27 and grades 3-5 between 11 and 30.

“With (the) consolidation we’ve done, (the) numbers are pushing where we are comfortable. We evaluate at those levels and see what might be the necessary remedy,” she said.

“There’s a lot of parents that watch these numbers,” board member Paul Mangione said, cautioning that not lowering the kindergarten numbers at WAEC or YEMS could result in students attending elsewhere, resulting in a loss of funding. “If it’s in their favor, that’s their decision point,” he said.

“Throughout Gov. Corbett’s reign, (I’m) not sure how we can get much tighter next year” with staffing, Stewart said. “These numbers are tight with our guidelines and not a lot of room to spare. We want to be staffed appropriately but we don’t want to spend money when we should have spent it (elsewhere).”

On the support staff side, a bumping meeting was held on July 15 and Stewart said that approximately 75 individuals bumped other people to get into new positions. The meeting resulted in eight suspensions but she said there are four positions that have been posted.

“The potential to have four people come back to get jobs out of those eight is there,” she said.