The Christina School District will have over 60 fewer teachers to work with next school year. The staffing cuts come a week after the district’s operating referendum failed.
The district’s school board voted Tuesday to lay off five teachers. The layoffs are a small part of $9 million in cuts district officials say are needed after the failed referendum. The district is also not renewing 58 temporary teacher contracts. That move does not require school board approval.
The layoffs passed by a vote of 4 to 3.
School board member Fred Pulaski voted in favor of the cuts.
“I think the reduction in force for these five teachers is part of a larger overall budget reduction we need to make so that the budget for next year matches the funds that we have,” he said. “If we don’t, we end up part-way through the year running out of money. And I don’t believe we can do that.”
School board member Elizabeth Paige voted against the layoffs. She says the district teachers’ union estimates the full cost of five teachers is around $500,000.
“Which, to be fair, is not nothing,” she said. “It’s not insignificant. But I truly believe we did not do enough creative problem solving to be able to save those five teacher positions.”
She says with at least sixty fewer teachers in Christina classrooms next year, learning may suffer.
“There’s going to be a major impact felt,” she said. “I know teachers in first grade already with thirty students in their classroom. Four of which have an EIP, one of which has a 504, nine English Language Learners. It’s only going to get worse.”
Teachers at Christina’s Wilmington schools will not be affected, under the reorganization Memorandum of Understanding.
District administrators also plan more than $3 million of non-payroll budget cuts.
During Tuesday’s meeting, several school board members laid blame for the district’s financial troubles on the state funding formulas and the referendum process. One member suggested letting the district run out of money to send a message. Another suggested looking into loans or selling off district real estate.
Pulaski says the board may try another referendum this fall or next spring.