Teacher reduction: Teaching position eliminated by board, 12 through attrition

With no questions from the board or comments from the public, only the Wapakoneta City School Board of Education president addressed the decision to eliminate an elementary music teacher’s position.

Christina Riddle’s position was eliminated unanimously Tuesday through a reduction in force (RIF) program during a regular board meeting at Wapakoneta Elementary School.

The resolution states that the intent to eliminate the certified position and suspend Riddle’s teaching contract effective the last day of the 2011-12 school year. The move is due to financial reasons and changes in curriculum.

“A lot of time, effort and soul searching was put into this,” Board President Willie Sammetinger said. “No one on the board or administration wants to see this happen, however, we are no different than the federal or state government, we have to maintain a solid financial base.

“Unfortunately, we have nothing else to give,” he said. “We don’t like it, but it’s what we have to do.”

Originally, reduction in force also was to include a high school and middle school keyboarding and business teacher position, but that teacher has since found another job. Chelsea Junkins’s resignation also was approved during Tuesday’s meeting and is effective March 30. A substitute is to finish out the year in her classes.

The approved staff reduction is to save the district $56,000, and when combined with other positions the district doesn’t plan to replace through attrition, would save the district $1 million, Superintendent Keith Horner said.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision, but one we felt we needed to make to become more fiscally healthy,” Horner said.

He said music and business were two areas of the curriculum they felt could be reduced through restructuring.

School administrators eliminated four positions through a reduction in force in 2009 that impacted family and consumer sciences, art, industrial technology, and physical education positions.

Riddle, a teacher at Cridersville Elementary and Wapakoneta Middle schools, has been employed with the district since 2006.

Horner said music is still to be offered to every elementary student in the district, but restructuring would eliminate a musical theater class at the high school and combine two choirs into one.

The elimination of the keyboarding and business position wouldn’t change what is offered, but how it is offered.

Horner said no additional reductions in staff are expected this year.

“We’ve gotten our bearings with a lot of people retiring,” Horner said. “Many of those won’t be replaced, so we are losing a lot of positions through attrition.”

Horner estimated that as many as 12 teaching positions may not be replaced due to attrition next year. Other staff positions not to be filled include a bus driver and instructional aide, but nothing has been finalized and decisions ultimately are to be made based on enrollment numbers.

Staffing numbers are expected to be at their lowest level in years in the district for the 2012-13 school year despite student enrollment remaining steady.

“I think we will be under staffed next year, but I think it is something we have to do,” Horner said. “It will change what we do with the kids.”