Duluth School Board Makes Teacher Cuts

By KBJR News 1

Duluth School Board Makes Teacher Cuts

June 19, 2012 Updated Jun 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Duluth School Board members voted Tuesday to make cuts affecting 29 teachers to close what's left of the $3.8 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

Lower than expected healthcare costs helped the district save $1.3 million earlier this year.

Other cuts have already taken place and includes six non-tenured teachers who were affected by cuts earlier in May.

Overall Tuesday, the district cut the equivalent of 26 full-time teachers, both tenured and non-tenured.

Administration noted that 19 other positions have also been cut.

To help close the budget gap, the district has also made structural changes to the school day.

Those include changing the middle school day from seven to six periods, meaning students will have fewer electives.

The district also changed the start times of the schools to help save on transportation costs.

Of all cuts, board members say teacher cuts are often the hardest to make.

"This is really hard for me. I don't want to vote for this but we have taken as school board members, we are obligated to balance budgets," said Board Member Judy Seliga-Punyko.

Board member Art Johnston was the only one to vote against the teacher cuts.

Cuts could have been reduced or avoided, had any part of the referendum passed last Fall.

There are plans to bring another operating levy referendum to the voters. Residents who have been working toward that asked board members to give early support to them this year.

All but one board member, Art Johnston, have pledged their support.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike