Western cuts three teaching positions and, for now, pre-K

Posted: Mar. 21, 2013 9:32 am Updated: Apr. 11, 2013 10:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

BARRY, Ill. -- Uncertainty about state funding forced the Western School Board to cut three teaching positions and, for now, the district's pre-kindergarten staff.

Two pre-K teachers and two noncertified pre-K staff "at this time will not be rehired pending notification about the grant funding for next year," Superintendent Carol Frericks said.

Board members Wednesday accepted the resignations of math teacher Adora Huddleston, art teacher Amanda Knott and science teacher Lisa Fitzgerald.

How to fill those positions, while cutting three positions districtwide, still needs to be determined.

"We're not looking to eliminate positions in art, science and math. We're looking across the board to reassign teachers to meet needs of the students," Frericks said. "What we're going to do is look at current staffing and do some reassignments."

Board President Chris Borrowman said the biggest challenge has been continued cuts in state funding.

"You make cuts that you can live with from the previous year, but the state continues to cut deeper and deeper," he said. "At times you feel like you're chasing your tail when you've got that going on."

The district last year trimmed 11 full-time and three part-time teachers as a step in a deficit reduction plan designed to reduce salaries and benefits by $380,000 for the next three years.

"This year we kind of fine-tuned stuff we did last year, finding other areas of efficiencies we can maybe pick up on," Borrowman said. "You'd hoped we could have found all the cuts in one year, but with a little more investigation, there are a few areas we can cut."

Frericks said the board took no action Wednesday on educational support personnel for the 2013-14 year.

"I anticipate there will be additional reductions in paraeducator positions at the next School Board meeting," she said.

-- Deborah Gertz Husar