School board looking at MS teacher cuts

The Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees are likely looking at making another hard decision, this time to cut some teaching positions at the middle schools while restructuring the schedule.

They heard a presentation from school administrators during their regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 22, with a recommendation to eliminate up to seven staff positions at the middle school level.

Declining enrollment – by 1,800 students since 1996 – plus large elementary class sizes, has the corporation looking at ways to tighten the belt while making learning opportunities for students at the two middle schools the same.

Superintendent Randy Harris said the loss of an average 80 students per year equates to about $480,000 in lost revenue for the school corporation, necessitating finding ways to cut the budget by that amount each year.

“Looking ahead at the 2018 budget, we are anticipating right now a deficit of approximately $725-,000,” he said. “Actually, the projected deficit could be as much as $1 million.”

Currently, at the sixth grade level, teachers work together in what Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Chuck Daugherty described as “dramatic units” on assignments. One example would combine English language arts and social studies teachers working with students on a paper about World War II.

At the seventh and eighth grade levels, teachers teach four periods at 60 minutes plus a 35 minute guided study, have 45 minutes of personal preparation and 45 minutes of team prep. During that time they discuss student performance, discipline and plan for field trips and other administrative tasks. The small learning community allows teachers to keep track of students.

Related arts teams at the two middle schools vary, with Riverview having one extra radio/television teacher; Crestview teaches two periods of band and choir at each grade level, while Riverview teaches one period per grade level in band/choir and the other is life skills; all tech ed and art teachers teach six classes of 45 minutes per class; Riverview teachers get a total of 61 minutes for personal prep time, that includes team prep plus they cover recess two days per week, while Crestview’s teachers get 88 minutes of prep time.

“These are some things we want to nail down as we’re looking forward at some scheduling so our students have the same opportunities,” Daugherty added.

He presented two “hybrid” schedules for the board to consider, one that called for eliminating seven teachers and another one that would reduce teachers by five.

Daugherty noted that both schedules retain the team teaching concept, dissipating rumors that had many middle school teachers fearing would be eliminated.

Daugherty said a group of teachers from both middle schools began to explore schedule options to cut between seven and nine teachers in September, meeting again this month with administrators to create a hybrid teaming schedule.

No action was taken on the item at this meeting.