Wapak Schools to reduce staff

Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members again are turning to a reduction-in-force (RIF) process in an attempt to save money for the district.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members will vote on the RIF of one employee, an elementary music teacher due to “financial reasons and changes in curriculum” as stated in the resolution.    

Originally the RIF was also to include a high school and middle school keyboarding and business teacher position, but that teacher has since found another job and plans to leave before the end of the school year.

Through attrition and the RIF, the district expects to save $1 million, with the RIF alone saving the district $56,000, Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said.

“It’s very difficult any time you cut someone’s position and their livelihood,” Horner said. “It’s an extremely difficult decision, but one we felt we needed to make to become more fiscally healthy. When you start looking at restructuring, these were two areas we felt we could reduce.”

He noted teachers impacted work hard with the children.

In 2009, the district eliminated four positions through a RIF that impacted family and consumer sciences, art, industrial technology and physical education positions.

Christina Riddle’s position would be impacted by the RIF. She teaches music at Cridersville Elementary and Wapakoneta Middle schools this year and has been employed by the district

since 2006.

“We will still offer music to every elementary student but we will restructure how we use time throughout the day,” Horner said,  noting there would be one music position at the elementary level beginning next school year if the RIF is approved.

The change also would impact how much music is offered at the high school with musical theater cut and two choirs combined into one.

The other position scheduled to be eliminated before the teacher found another job was held by Chelsea Junkins. Her position now will not be replaced through attrition. Her resignation is effective at the end of March with a substitute covering her classes through the end of the school year.

Horner said the loss of the position would not change what is offered, but how it is offered.

“We will continue to offer everything we offer, we will just offer it differently,” Horner said of business classes.

He said he did not anticipate any additional reductions in staff at this time.

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

He estimated as many as 12 teaching positions may not be replaced next year due to attrition, as well as one bus driver and an instructional aide, but nothing has been finalized. District administrators must weigh the needs of the students and how those changes would work based on enrollment.

With the most recent high staff count of 308 during the 2008-09 school year, Horner said Wapakoneta would be at its lowest level of staffing at 266 or 268 in 2012-13 with relatively the same number of students enrolled in the district.

“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.”

Also on Tuesday’s agenda are three-year contracts for district administrators including, Wapakoneta Elementary School Assistant Principal Carrie Knoch, Wapakoneta Middle School Assistant Principal Wes Newland, Wapakoneta High School Principal Aaron Rex, Wapakoneta Athletic Director Brad Rex, and Cridersville Elementary School Principal Dave Tester. Wapakoneta City Schools Treasurer Susan Rinehart’s contract was extended through May 31, 2013.

The administrators all are to receive the same rate of pay as they did this year, when both pay and step freezes were implemented.

Teachers in the district received step increases this year but also are now to have their pay frozen.