Wednesday, April 04, 2001

39 jobs at stake in levy vote

Edgewood staff notified of cutbacks

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        TRENTON — The fate of 39 employees, as well as virtually all extracurricular activities, of the Edgewood City Schools rests with the voters here.

        All 39 people on a list will lose their jobs when classes end in June unless voters approve a 6.9-mill operating levy on May 8.

        The reduction in force of 41 positions — two are now unfilled — is part of $1.56-million in cuts approved by the Edgewood Board of Education last month. Included in those cuts were all sports, school clubs, high school transportation and field trips. The employee reductions represent about 10 percent of the district's staff.

        Among the 39 people on a reduction-in-force list approved Monday by the Edgewood Board of Education are 20 aides, five teachers, the directors of special education and athletics, three custodians, one secretary and eight bus drivers. Had it not been for some retirements of long-term teachers at the top of the pay scale and some contract non-renewals, the list of teaching positions would be greater, said Edgewood Superintendent Dale Robertson.

        “We ought to be out recruiting the best and brightest new teachers, not dismantling our district,” Mr. Robertson said. “What we are assembling right now is the kind of school district we can afford. It will be bare bones. ... It's not a pretty picture.”

        Board member Linda McIntire said it was difficult to vote to lose long-term employees, especially when the district is growing. In the last five years enrollment increased by 800 students to 3,350. Voters last approved an operating levy in 1987. Two have failed in the last five months.

        “It was absolutely not an easy vote. We did it as far as seniority.” Mrs. McIntire said. She said she hopes the 39 who have been notified will be available to return if the levy passes.

        It is probable that some of the new classrooms being built at Edgewood High School with proceeds from a 1998 bond issue will remain empty while elsewhere in the building classes will have upwards of 30 students. Elementary teachers will begin the year with 27-28 students, compared to the state average of just over 18 students.

        The levy would raise about $2.13 million annually. The cost to the owner of a $100,000 home would be about $211 annually.


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