Schools move ahead with fewer full-time teachers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Schools move ahead with fewer full-time teachers

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Across Iowa, school districts are facing difficult budget cuts, making choices to cut staff and programs. In Dubuque, the district needs to save around $7.5 million, by cutting it's biggest cost: people.

More than 150 positions need to be eliminated. Some have already disappeared due to retirement or people leaving the district. 82 teachers, counselors and nurses with the least seniority have been pink-slipped; their jobs cut or reduced. Now schools are figuring out how to go without.

At Fulton Elementary, administrators say the physical education and art teachers have had their hours cut. The teacher cuts were made based only on seniority, not on job performance or other factors.

"The district's been very generous having full-time specialists in all of our buildings, but when you have to make $7.5 million worth of cuts, you want to look where you could just scale back a little bit and not dismiss the program at all," Principal Jean McDonald said. "We're very fortunate that no program in the district was totally cut."

McDonald says the kids will still get the same amount of P.E., art, and music classes, but some teachers will now likely be shared with other buildings. She points out that's losing extra help, like the hours physical education teacher Dan Ruba put in outside the gym.

"Mr. Ruba helps with supervision. He does some extensions with the kids, he does interventions, he helps homeroom teachers, and teacher development," McDonald said.

After being reduced, Ruba asked for a private school board review to consider keeping him on full-time. That was denied, though the district says very regrettably. Officials acknowledged Ruba's hard work with the schools, but said the budget cuts made his position a necessary cut.

"He has done some tremendous work for Fulton, as well as some of our other teachers that have been released. This has not been an easy task for this whole board," School Board President Otto Krueger said at Monday's meeting.

McDonald says Ruba will likely still be at Fulton this fall, just part-time for now.  McDonald and school board members have expressed hope that Ruba and other teachers will be recalled to their full-time positions before the school year starts.  That would be tied to enrollment numbers and money.

"I know the goal is that they'd like to bring [full-time specialty teachers] back someday. We don't know yet because of the economy, but the district does value them in the building all day, and we're hoping that will continue soon," McDonald said.

District officials say the last time they did teacher cuts, around 60% were recalled to their positions and were working again the next fall.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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