School district cuts staff

Eleven reduction in force (RIF) notices were handed out to certificated staff by the Bainbridge School District this week.

Of the 11 certificated staff who were given an RIF notice, three of them are for partial positions while two of them are for staff who do not work full time, but their position will be eliminated for the 2011-12 school year.

Additionally, 20 more staff members were informed they would not be back next year either. They are staff members who work for the district on a “leave-replacement” contract, or those who work on a year-to-year contract to fill in for staff who are on sabbatical, sick leave or maternity leave.

A retiring assistant principal’s position will not be filled while three more staff have handed in partial resignations for a reduction in their class load. Those classes will not be filled either.

District human relations coordinator Cami Dombkowski said they would not release the names of those who were given RIF notices.

Those who were selected for an RIF notice were chosen based on seniority and what specific “endorsements,” they have. That involves the type of expertise a teacher has in a specific subject such as math or English for teachers in grades 7-12, while teachers in grades K-6 take specific classes in child development.

Dombkowsk said the letter contains information as to whether they will not have their contract renewed or whether they will return with a pay reduction in their contract.

She also said those who are laid off are put in an “RIF pool,” which gives the district a chance to rehire someone who has been given a notice to refill an open position. Those names will stay in the pool for up to two years. After that, they must find employment elsewhere.

Dombkowski said they may rehire those who were notified before the school year, but it depends on how the enrollment numbers shake out.

Supt. Faith Chapel said it was a difficult process to hand out the RIF notices due to the state legislature not coming together on the budget gap between the two houses.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to move forward on this and communicate information of a possible loss of jobs to people we highly value,” she said.

Ian Eisenhood, who was selected as the 2010 Bainbridge Island Educator of the Year by the Kiwanis Club, said he was one of the teachers who received an RIF notice. He teaches the second grade at Wilkes Elementary School and has been there for six years.

“My principal (Sheryl Belt) gave me the heads up, so when it did happen, it was no surprise,” he said. “But it was still a shock to get the notice and go through the formal procedure.”

Eisenhood said he was not upset with the school district, but with the Legislature making cuts to K-12 education year after year.

“They keep cutting and there’s nowhere to cut anymore,” he said. “It’s ultimately affecting the kids we teach. It’s a depressing time to be in education. It’s hard to keep up a positive attitude when things keep getting cut.”

Boo Schneider, president of the Bainbridge Island Educators Association, said the cuts of those on the leave-replacement contracts will be felt as well.

“They have been integral (to the district),” she said. “Some of them have been working on a (leave-replacement) contract for four years. Now they are going to be out of work. It’s a really uncomfortable feeling.”


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