The Stanfield School District will make significant cuts to its teaching staff in order to accommodate a storm of budget deficits, enrollment loss and an inadequate opening cash balance.
Four positions will be eliminated, including one each from kindergarten, first-grade, and science and art at the secondary school. The first-grade position was left open after a resignation and will not be filled.
A dual English/Spanish teacher will be reduced from full-time to part-time, and all teaching assistant positions will have a reduction in the number of hours and/or days.
The Stanfield School Board unanimously approved a plan to address the anticipated budget deficit during their board meeting on April 10.
Within the last two years, cuts were made to the classified staff and administration in addition to not rehiring for vacant positions.
“We have nowhere else to take money from the budget that won’t directly affect student learning,” said Stanfield Superintendent Kevin Headings.
In order to accommodate for the elimination of the science teacher position, math teachers will be required to take over the role, Headings said. To accommodate for the loss of the art teacher in the secondary program, an online art program will be provided.
Headings said while he realizes the online art program is not the same as an actual teacher, he said students still have plenty of electives to choose from.
The secondary school added four electives last year including a drama program, he said.
Headings said the cuts won’t affect student learning in any way and that the district will continue to thrive even considering the cuts to the staff.
“Student learning is our number one priority,” he said. “There is no question in my mind that we have a good teaching staff and we have not lost that focus.”
Headings said though the decision is not popular, he thinks it will keep the district stable.
A number of factors contributed to the budget deficit including significant enrollment loss, increased insurance for staff, and PERS increases, he said.
Oregon schools are required to establish their budget before the state budget is finalized. School districts have a deadline of June 30 whereas the state may deliberate until late July.
Last year, the district saw a $90,000 deficit in the school budget. This year, it’s a $200,000 deficit.
Headings said the state also allocates funds based on the school’s enrollment numbers, and the district saw a significant drop in enrollment numbers over the past few years.
During the 2009-2010 school year, the highest enrollment rate the district saw was 580 students. In the 2010-2011 school year, that number decreased to 510 students.
This year, the district projected for an enrollment of 500, but currently enrolls 492 students.
“For a small district, that is a significant impact,” Headings said.