The cuts are starting and so is the pain.
Tuesday the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District notified five education specialists that their positions have been eliminated for next year. However, the employees have not been laid off, district officials stressed.
Those affected are senior teachers who train and assist other teachers throughout the district. They represent decades of experience and have garnered numerous honors for their work with the district.
"They basically are master teachers in their areas," said Rick Matiya, the district's director for federal programs and small schools.
Matiya and Melody Douglas, the district's chief financial officer, confirmed that the specialists would be reassigned as classroom teachers. Their reassignment will offset the loss of positions when nontenured teachers are laid off due to budget cuts. The district plans to announce the layoffs at the end of the month, they said.
Douglas said the district will restructure the way it trains staff. The specialists will be reassigned, and their earnings will stay the same.
"They will be working with children instead of teachers," she said.
"We are trying to protect the (pupil-teacher ratio) in the classroom," he said. "We basically are looking at putting all dollars into the classroom wherever possible."
The individuals and positions affected are:
Maureen "Mo" Stoner, director of the Quest program for gifted and talented students;
Dorothy Gray, the head of districtwide staff development;
Carol VanDerWege, the districtwide reading specialist;
Ben Eveland, director of vocational technology programs; and
Phil Biggs, district technology director.
The employees are still reeling from the news.
"It was quite a shock," said Gray, who has worked for the district for 23 years.
The superintendent and assistant superintendents were out of town and unavailable for comment.
Matiya said the changes stem from the harsh financial realities the district faces.
"We have a budget problem," he said.
"We are taking (cuts) in areas that do not affect the classroom. That is what we are trying to do."
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