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12 teacher contracts cut at S. Putnam

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reduction-In-Force continues as the South Putnam School Board recently approved reducing contracts of 12 semi-permanent and permanent teachers at a special session.

Six of those teachers might not be coming back for the 2006-07 school year.

In two separate votes, the board voted 4-1 for the recommendations of Superintendent Dan Schroeder. Board member Steven Cash voted no in both instances.

Schroeder recommended the contract cancellation of Reelsville Elementary first grade teacher Cindy Evens.

"We need to deal with that differently," Schroeder said. "She requested a hearing. The law says we have to file a separate document."

South Putnam Classroom Teacher's Association president Kim Fidler asked the board if Evens' situation was similar to that of Kate Atkinson, who received a RIF notice earlier this year. Schroeder said the situations were different, explaining that Evens was dealt with separately because she had asked for a hearing.

However, board member Nancy Wells made the motion for contract cancellation, with Dale Mendenhall giving the second.

Following the first vote, the board pooled the other 11 RIF notices together for one vote, with Wells motioning to approve and Mendenhall giving the second.

Schroeder explained to the board that the teachers on the list fit into various levels of seniority.

In addition to the vote on Evens, the board voted to eliminate the full-time contracts of Reelsville sixth-grade teacher Marc Hendrickson, junior and senior high school English teacher Melissa Knipp, Reelsville fourth-grade teacher Heather Robinson, Central Elementary fourth-grade teacher Tisha Paugh, and junior and senior high school band director Aaron Wells.

The board also voted in favor of reducing the contract of junior and senior high school business teacher Deanna Blankenship from seven periods in a day to five, and junior and senior high school choir director Kurt Scott to a 12-week contract at the elementary schools.

In addition, aqua/agriculture teacher Larry Bottorff's contract was reduced from 260 days to 240 days, and high school guidance counselors Mark Wildman and Becky Brothers were reduced from 215 days to 200.

A full-time contract for teachers is for 183 days. There are also 36 weeks in a school calendar.

Schroeder said the elimination and reduction of contracts was because of declining enrollment with the corporation and finances.

"None of these people were (let go) for performance reasons," Schroeder said. "It was a financial decision."

Following the votes, members of the community had an opportunity to air their concerns with the board.

Beth Arnold told the board members her family was disappointed with the decisions but also donated a check for an undisclosed amount to the corporation with the hope the money would be used to help maintain certain programs in the corporation.

She said some students would not have the opportunity to receive private music lessons, meaning the music programs in the corporation are important.

"With this donation, I'm hoping to set off an avalanche of the trickle down affect," Arnold told the board. "I'm just hoping to start something."

Fidler told the board she was also disappointed with the board's decisions.

"South Putnam's loss of these fine teachers will be another school's gain," Fidler said.

In addition, Lois Schilling told the board she had recently been in contact with a former South Putnam student who had studied art in college. Schilling said the student was willing to come back to the corporation to teach art and would take a pay cut.

"She really just wants to give back what she received," Schilling told the board. "She's not in it for the money."

But board member Wells said the board could not accept such a notion because of the contract the teacher's association had with the corporation.

In addition to Wells, Mendenhall and Cash, board members Mike Rissler and Howard Bowen were in attendance at Monday's meeting.

The board meets regularly on the fourth Monday of each month. Its next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 24.



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