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Budget Crisis Forces Richfield Schools to Cut 29 Full-Time Positions Next Year

The Richfield Public Schools District prepares for reduction in personnel, larger class sizes for the next school year.

Richfield Public Schools (RPS) are facing a significant budget crunch, forcing the district to cut teachers and increase class size.

of the Richfield School Board, the board voted unanimously in support of a resolution that would cut approximately 17 full-time teachers and other personnel from district staff.

"We don't want to do that but are hands are tied in that we have no more money to reduce out of any of the other budgets," said Superintendent Bob Slotterback at Monday's regular meeting.

The resolution calls for a discontinuation of about 29 (28.2906) full-time equivalent positions from the district in the 2011-2012 school year. Within this number, 17 would be continuing contract teachers.

"In addition to the continued contract teachers, probationary teachers will also be reduced," said Craig Holje, director of personnel for RPS.

The planned reductions, according to Holje, include:

  • More than 12 (12.4405) positions eliminated from (RHS);
  • About 12 (11.9976) at the elementary level;
  • One (.7) from early childhood education;
  • More than three in the district's career education program.

"The good news is I anticipate that some of these positions will not be reduced or will actually be added back later on this spring," Holje said. "The bad news is right now we need to be taking that reduction so we can be in firm financial standing moving into next school year."

Teachers who will be placed on an unrequested leave of absence have already been notified by the district. Holje said the decision on which teachers would receive a leave of absence was based on seniority.

"The teachers have already had communications, so they are aware that this information has come before the board tonight," Holje said.

Director Todd Nollenberger said the district has made teacher cuts before, though this is the first time where it's going to be extremely visible and the change in the classroom would be felt.

"It's a challenging and sad moment for us," said Peter Toensing, board chairman.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included , a Minnesota legislative bill that would enact a salary freeze for teachers. The bill, which passed the Minnesota Senate, has been moved to the House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the Committee on Education Reform. Slotterback reiterated that Richfield's legislative representatives said they didn't believe the bill would pass at the Feb. 17 study session.

The next school board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. March 21 at the .

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