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By Don Ogle
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Creek Valley Board Upholds Teacher Release

 

March 23, 2018



Creek Valley’s School Board upheld a teacher’s release at a hearing Tuesday, continuing an action authorized at its February board meeting.

The release was not due to any wrongdoing of business teacher Janet Hill, but rather a Reduction In Force (RIF) due to work on the district’s high budget.

In February, the board authorized RIF reductions of two positions, Hill’s and a special education spot. The other teacher accepted the action without protest, but Hill chose to protest the decision and requested a hearing to argue the cut.

In the hearing, the district presented evidence of the need to make drastic cuts in its budget. Among its evidence were state budget figures which showed the district budget is roughly $1 million dollars above all schools in Creek Valley’s school conference. That includes Bayard, which has almost double the number of students as Creek Valley. According to state figures presented, Creek Valley has the ninth highest cost-per-pupil in the state and has a 7-1 teacher to student ratio, double the state average.

Changes in state funding to the school have also made a big difference, according to district Superintendent Ron Howard, who said state aide had gone from nearly $400,000 in 2013 to around $12,000 this year.

The school is also concerned that, due to jobs situations in the area, estimates show the district could lose 30-40 students next year.

Howard also outlined one of the school’s pieces of evidence, its RIF policy. That policy provides the criteria for RIF reductions, as well guidelines for qualifying which teachers would hold preference. Among those was years in service within the district.

In the case for choosing Hill, time in service was one of the criteria used. Hill has four year of service to the district, while another teacher who can also teach business has more than 30 years. Teacher endorsements and other abilities were also discussed. Hill has endorsements in more areas, but the other teacher also serves in other capacities, including coaching.

In presenting Hill’s case, Cindy Copich from the Nebraska Education Association brought out that the district has over the past several years hired nine teachers, suggesting that attrition could have solved some of its problems.

Hill also testified on her own behalf, outlining the courses she teaches. Hill has a number of business classes and also oversees students in maintaining the district’s website. Among her other offerings are business law, and working with students in book keeping and the area of personal finance.

Hill said the programs have proven valuable to students and said it would be a disservice to student to have those programs go away.

No evidence was given by either side which, if any, classes might be dropped or what the district plans for realignment of classes.

In the end, the board with one member, Mr. Thomas, absent, voted unanimously to uphold the RIF reduction.

 

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