Updated March 20, 1 p.m.
On March 13 the District 208 school board voted unanimously to dismiss seven part-time teachers at Riverside-Brookfield High School at the end of the school year.
The board also voted 6 to 1, with Tim Walsh casting the only dissenting vote, to layoff nine full-time teachers. But the board then voted unanimously to hire back seven of the nine full-time teachers to teach part time at the school next year.
Seven other members of the RBHS faculty will also work part time next year.
The layoffs, called reductions in force, were expected. Combined with the retirements of four veteran teachers and one teacher taking a leave of absence, the layoffs will save the district between $900,000 and $980,000 next year, District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis said.
“The reduction of teachers tonight is disheartening, and it’s the reality of where this district is right now and where we’re going and what we need to do,” Skinkis said.
“There wasn’t a teacher that was on the list tonight that is being reduced in force or dismissed because of performance,” he added. “All these individuals have done a great job for the district both in the classroom and outside of the classroom, and it’s unfortunate that they’re caught up in this type of situation, but we have to address the deficit accordingly.”
Skinkis said the district’s largest expenditures relate to faculty salaries and benefits, and, according to the district’s contract with the school’s teachers union, those hired most recently are the first to be laid off.
“Based on the collective bargaining agreement, it goes based on seniority and the individuals addressed tonight were either part time or lowest in seniority in their academic departments,” Skinkis said.
Retirements, layoffs and reductions in force will decrease the faculty at RBHS by the equivalent of 13.2 full-time positions, a decrease of almost 14 percent. However, Skinkis said some of the teachers might be called back or have their hours increased over the summer. The final reduction in the faculty is likely to be about 10 positions.
District 208 school board President Matt Sinde said it was not easy to approve the cuts.
“It’s a hard thing to do and it’s very sad,” Sinde said. “They are great teachers.”
Walsh said he voted against the reductions in force for the nine full-time teachers because he wasn’t sure the district’s financial situation required such severe cuts.
He also said if the board had chosen to pursue further talks with the teachers union, the district might have been able to avoid some of the reductions.
“I think we could have made more of an effort to try and talk to the [Riverside Brookfield Education Association] and see if there is something more that can be done under the terms of the current contract,” Walsh said. “Could we have made more progress if we as a board talked to the RBEA executive board?
“I don’t know, but we’ll never know. Basically at this point we ended in failure.
Dave Monti, president of the high school’s union, the Riverside Brookfield Education Association, said he was saddened by the layoffs and reduced hours for full-timers.
“I am deeply saddened that many excellent young teachers are being reduced or eliminated for 2012-13,” said Monti. “I am also very disappointed and frustrated because I know that number would’ve been less if the talks had been successful.”