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A dozen Sterling teachers cut

Cuts save more than $1 million

STERLING – Twelve Sterling teachers received notices that they will not have jobs next year.

The school board Wednesday unanimously approved the reduction in force after a public hearing at which no one spoke up.

The district is in the second year of a 3-year budget-reduction plan. The district cut more than $750,000 last year and must cut $1.9 million more over the course of this year and next.

"We've reduced our budget by almost $4 million over the last few years on the expenditure side," Superintendent Tad Everett said. "It comes back to the revenue side."

Sterling Public Schools have lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid because the state has prorated, or reduced, its payments to school districts. The district has lost out on property tax revenue because its equalized value dropped almost 3 percent. The district also has lost about $3 million in its employee benefit plan since 2010.

"Our goal was to minimize the number of staff reductions and maintain as many student programs as possible," Everett said. "Those were our two key points [throughout the budget-reduction process]."

The district warned staff in January of the likelihood that 15 to 20 positions would be eliminated for financial reasons.

"We told them to expect that, knowing we had to get right at about a million dollars [in reductions] for next year," Everett said. "We have benefitted from two retirements, three resignations, a leave of absence and a nonrenewal. Those were seven positions we did not have to [cut]."

The district eliminated 11.5 positions, held by 12 people, because of restructuring at several schools, including Challand Middle School, which is moving from a middle-school model to more of a junior-high school model for seventh- and eighth-graders. It also cut positions because of decreased enrollment at Washington, Lincoln and Franklin elementary schools, and because of unknown state funding for pre-kindergarten.

The teachers who received notices are:

– Mary Kay Bohm, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Challand.

– Brooke Clevenger, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Challand.

– Jenna Dempsey, a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln.

– Nicole Dettman, a computer teacher at Challand.

– Tracey Deyo, a Title I reading teacher at Washington.

– Jason Fargher, a fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln.

– Beth Kukowski, a part-time pre-kindergarten teacher at Franklin.

– Karen Lubbers, a sixth-grade social studies and language arts teacher at Challand.

– Laura Meier, a kindergarten teacher at Franklin.

– Toni Pickard, a sixth-grade science and language arts teacher at Challand.

– Emily Schultz, position and school unavailable Wednesday night.

– Brandi Weaver, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Franklin.

The district could bring back as many as 3.5 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten positions, filled by four people, based on enrollment and guarantees of funding from the state next year.

The eliminated positions, plus several other reductions, amount to more than $1 million.

Also Wednesday, the board expelled a student for the remainder of the school year, and approved the resignation of Cheryl Robinson, director of curriculum and instruction.

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