Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2010

EHS staff: Cuts could cause regression

March 18, 2010

This is the third in a series of stories that will take a closer look at the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education’s options for budget cuts.

You can go to the Eudora School District’s Web site and read a recounting of the district’s recent success and achievements.

Recognition of Eudora High School by U.S News and World Report, several standards of excellence on Kansas state assessment test, teachers winning professional awards and students earning recognition for success in and out of the classroom.

EHS Principal Dale Sample said these achievements might not continue to be the norm for not just EHS, but the whole district, because of impending budget cuts.

Activities Director Dave Durkin, who has been in the district more than 30 years and will retire at the end of this school year said a possible regression would be hard to swallow.

“That’s the part that hurts the most,” Durkin said.

With the district facing budget cuts that are needed to mitigate a $410,000 deficit as a result of Kansas Legislators’ continued cuts to base state aid per pupil, possible cuts at EHS include cutting the activities director position; eliminating three part-time positions for the culinary arts, graphic printing and health careers programs at Eudora De Soto Technical Education Center; and cutting a library aide who works at both EHS and Eudora Middle School

These cuts would mean a savings of $187,000.

If the AD position were cut, the duties would be split up between incoming principal G.A. Buie and assistant principal Ron Abel. A teacher given a stipend and an extra plan period to handle some AD duties also might be part of the equation.

The cutting of the activities director position would not cause anyone to lose a job, but Durkin, Abel and Sample said it would make it tough for those picking up the slack to do the job at the level many are accustomed.

“It’ll be a hard thing to do,” Sample said. “Maybe the coaches will have to take up some of the slack. It can be done, but to do a quality job, there just wouldn’t be enough hours in the day.”

Durkin, Sample and Abel currently work about 60 hours a week and share supervisory duties of activities, though they attend most activities anyway.

Durkin said he sometimes works 70 hours a week, and Abel said some days are nine hours long, while others can be as much as 15 hours long.

“I have some real reservations because I don’t know how all of those things are going to be done,” Abel said. “It’s a significant time investment now, and it would be even more next year.”

Furthermore, Durkin also deals with calls from game officials, other high school ADs, salesmen, EHS coaches and coaches from other schools.

Sample also said Durkin handles activities and deals with senior nights, student council, assemblies, clubs and organizations, transportation and making sure playing fields are ready.

“In Dave’s job, as far as time is concerned, there are a number of activities that need someone there to supervise them,” Sample said. “He does a lot of things you don’t see other ADs do, and there’s much more to it than it looks from the outside. Lots of days, he’s busier than I am.”

The three men said there might not initially be a discernible difference in the classroom as a result of cutting the position, but said that at some point there would be.

“It doesn’t directly impact the classroom, but over time it will impact all the kids and coaches involved in the activities because in some way, the services they were accustomed to will be less than what they had,” Durkin said.

For Abel’s part, he already will be figuring out the logistics of having the whole EDTEC program located on the EHS campus.

It had been located at EHS, with a few classes being held at De Soto High School.

“When you make a transition like that, you are going to deal with things you’ve never had to deal with,” Abel said.

While he understands the economic situation is out of the USD 491 Board of Education’s control, Abel said the idea of cutting any program is disheartening.

He also was worried about the overall morale of the staff.

“A lot of the things we’ve done we felt like were the right thing to do and they would have a positive impact on the school, and I think our scores indicate that’s the case,” Abel said. “But you’re going to be asking everybody to do everything you’ve asked before, plus more.”

That’s with nothing being said of cuts to the library.

Librarian Gretchen Schreiner and one aide cover the EMS and EHS libraries. If the aide were to be cut, the library simply might not be available at any time each day.

Teachers might also need to be trained in checking books out, too.

Sample said the all of the possible cuts centered around making decisions that went against the way they always have made decisions.

“Every major decision that we ever made involving kids had to do with just that: what is the best thing that we can do for kids,” Sample said. “Now, when we ask that, the answer is ‘no.’ It effects the morale of your students and the morale of your staff.”

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