The two part-time teachers that Pine Strawberry School District hopes to hire for physical education and art next year would absorb its financial cushion, however, Superintendent Mike Clark says the classes are vital to a student’s education.
The plan is contingent upon funding, and Clark said he would prioritize hiring a part-time art teacher over a physical education teacher if deciding became necessary.
Currently, every teacher offers in-class art, and a math and science teacher teach gym.
“There is tons of research that students offered a fine arts program do better in the regular content areas,” Clark said.
The board recently approved laying off the district’s special education teacher due to the declining enrollment of special education students. That money could pay for the two part-time teachers, Clark said.
Although the district worries next year’s cuts could be worse than this year’s, which the state legislature still has not released, the board and superintendent agreed they should contemplate offerings one year at a time.
Another laid-off teacher — the pre-school teacher — could fill the newly created, stimulus-funded position of curriculum integration specialist. The specialist would align curriculum from two different standards for pre-school through third-grade.
The district expects to receive $49,000 over two years from the federal stimulus package for teaching students at risk of failing. The state and federal departments of education have urged school districts to save jobs and strengthen early childhood education.
The rest of the money to fund the position, which Clark estimated would cost $35,000 annually plus benefits, would come from either the maintenance and operations fund or the district’s regular allotment of funding for teaching at-risk students.
Board member Michelle Wintrich said she found it ironic that the state legislature has floated plans to slash funding for all-day kindergarten while issuing this new urge to strengthen early childhood education.
The district will have both all-day kindergarten and pre-school next year.
The district’s music teacher, John Carpino, has also submitted his resignation after teaching at the school one year. Carpino did not return calls for comment, but Clark said he wanted to pursue other opportunities.
Clark has submitted the job opening to the three state universities, among other places, and says he expects many applicants because of the downtrodden economy.