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School District 25 cuts looming

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Apr 16 2013 11:20:04 PM CDT

Idaho House Bill 25 not going to "fix it" all

The Pocatello/Chubbuck School District held its regular session meeting Tuesday night, and it was a big one.

Idaho House Bill 65, nicknamed the “Fix It” Bill, appropriated some funding for school districts across the Gem State. However, that funding comes with some strings attached, as some employees of the school district are going to find out.

"You cannot balance this budget without staffing reductions," said Superintendent Mary Vagner.

The board discussed some cuts they have been already made.

They eliminated one secretarial position by combining duties, and they even cut a vice principal position.

Now, it looks like they need to look at more staff reductions.

"Because then, if everything stays status quo,” said vice chairman John Sargent, “And you go 60, you're going to be laying off 30 to 36 teachers."

Several numbers were thrown back and forth, but how do they translate into cuts?

Within the district, there is normally a 50-teacher turnover from year to year.

After Tuesday's tough decision, it looks as though 30 to 36 teachers may be losing their jobs, as they took 60 percent of the unappropriated funding to help reduce that number.

"With that in mind,” Sargent said, “I would hope the majority of these can be absorbed that way, through retirement, changing jobs, etc."

The board looked at several budget numbers in their unappropriated fund.

The money they received from the state legislature cannot be used to supplement these budget shortfalls.

"They can only be used for technology acquisition and pay for performance,” Vagner said. “So our ability to have discretionary money to meet the needs of operation of this district has not been made available by the state legislature"

The board also talked about how this budget decision will impact programs. Vagner said they have been trying to avoid that with each budget discussion, but it has to happen with this area now lacking the funding.

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 currently employs 650 to 700 teachers.

So while the schools will be seeing more advanced technology in the classroom, there may be fewer teachers to utilize it.

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