A week after the Grand Forks School Board voted to eliminate seven teaching positions within the district, the board on Monday, April 19, effectively reversed its decision.
After a lengthy set of “reduction-in-force” hearings during a meeting Monday evening, school administrators decided not to move forward with the proposed teacher cuts.
"Grand Forks school system administration determined that it was in the best interest of the teachers involved to not proceed with the reduction-in-force process this school year based on the discussions of the School Board in executive session,” Superintendent Terry Brenner told the Herald on Tuesday morning in a prepared statement.
Each of the teachers involved will retain employment with Grand Forks Public Schools, Brenner said. At the start of Monday’s meeting, three teachers declined to have a RIF hearing. Those teachers also will retain their employment with the district, he said.
Most of the nearly four-hour meeting was spent in executive session to discuss the contracts of the involved teachers.
During the brief portions of the meeting that were public, board members had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions of district leaders. Mikula questioned administrators about the process that was undertaken to make the decision on cuts. District leaders responded by saying they spoke with mostly internal stakeholders and also discussed the detailed rubric for the cuts.
Last week, the board voted to adopt a plan brought forward by its Finance Committee that would have eliminated seven teaching positions that primarily would affect art, music and world languages instruction at all grade levels. The move, part of a $4.4 million budget reduction for next year, was to be the first step in a process to reduce the district’s budget by 10%, or $10.8 million, over the next two school years. It also would have eliminated the Artist in the Classroom program.
The teachers whose positions were originally slated to be cut were Mary Kulas, Artist in the Classroom; Autumn Hanson and Bryan Walls, art; Alexander Barta, choir; Kelly King, orchestra; and Jason Hawley and Kara Hung, world languages program. All are full-time employees except Hanson and Barta, who are 0.6 full-time equivalent employees.
The cuts would have eliminated approximately $400,000 from the budget, Flynn said Tuesday morning. The district and the board will need to continue to assess its budget situation going forward, she said.
“The district and the board will just have to work through and continue to assess its financial situation and create efficiencies where possible and try to look for additional revenue sources,” Flynn said.
Brenner said the school system would not have any further comment on the matter, upon guidance from the district’s legal counsel.