Seeing the faces of Eastern Carver County School Board members was not necessary May 18. Their voices told the story.
A night of tough resolution.
A budget shortfall for 2020-21 meant the termination of 45 full-time equivalent positions around the district, including 39 non-renewals of probationary teaching staff at the end of the school year.
Lost were 18 positions at the area high schools, with a move to a six-period day; 10 positions at middle schools; and 11 positions in elementary schools, with an addition of 1.5 students per teacher.
“I can speak for my family, and I know there are a lot of different families across the district, where there are a lot of tears. These just aren’t people and individuals, they are fantastic teachers, and that’s what our kids are missing out on,” said Ron Meyer, board treasurer.
“It is very sad to see some of the names on the list. Really good people. Good talent,” said Board Member Lisa Anderson.
Jim O’Connell, director of Administrative Services for ECCS, said some of the names on the list will be rehired as their contracts were being reduced. Other teachers may be rehired, if things such as enrollment increases and as principals determine staffing needs.
“You’ll notice a few more names this year than previous years. The main reason for that is a failure of the referendum,” O’Connell said.
All teachers were notified earlier this month by school principals.
“It definitely was a challenge working with the budget reduction, trying to minimize as most as we can,” said Board Chair Dr. Jeffrey Ross. “When you’re faced with 39 positions in the end, it makes it real in the end. Very challenging and difficult with the impact that it has.”
In addition, six teachers with continuing contract rights were placed on unrequested leave of absence effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
O’Connell described it as “tenured teachers that we don’t have spots for.” Included were three Title I teachers, two social studies teachers, and one art teacher. A teacher can be placed on unrequested leave for up to five years. If an opening comes up, they can either reject or accept the position.
“Certainly this is a situation we don’t want to be in, but we need to address it, we need to balance our budget. Hopefully we’ll avoid this situation in the future,” O’Connell said.