BELPRE - The Belpre City Schools District Board of Education approved to lay off four elementary school teachers in a 4-to-1 vote during the monthly business meeting on Monday.
Kindergarten teachers Amber Hanes and Amber Place along with third-grade teacher Eileen Cieslewski and second-grade teacher Nicole Rodgers were notified prior to the meeting that their jobs would not be available after Aug. 12.
The board approved to remove their positions from the school during a reduction-in-force with four other teaching positions during the March meeting.
Belpre City Schools District Board of Education member Leonard Wiggins discusses his plan to save te
"I know with the economic times, you've got to (let them go), but I think there's something else we should do before we get rid of them," said board member Leonard Wiggins.
Before the board passed the motion, with Wiggins as the lone vote against the layoffs, Wiggins announced he had crunched some numbers and thought he had found a way to keep all but one of the positions.
"I would like the board to take a serious look at the numbers I've crunched," he said.
New Belpre City Schools District Superintendent Tony Dunn sits between school board president Bobbi Simmons, front, and district treasurer Eva Yeager, back, during his first official school board meeting Monday night. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
The board collectively chose to continue with the meeting and will discuss Wiggins' suggested changes during an executive session with the knowledge that if they do bring back one or more of the lost positions, those teachers let go will have first rights to the jobs.
"They all have call-back rights and first rights to any jobs open over the next three years," said longtime board member Rod Hineman.
"Contractually, we have to pull the trigger now, that doesn't mean we can't rescind it," said board member Mike Wile.
Although there will be fewer teachers in the kindergarten department, Belpre Elementary School principal Bernie Boice said that this change will not reduce the number of classes available or raise the student-to-teacher ratio in the kindergarten classes.
"The only difference is, we will move teachers from other assignments," he said. "We will keep three sections of kindergarten but reduce third and sixth grades from four to three sections and move those teachers around.
"We will be creating greater class sizes in the building, but not necessarily in kindergarten," Boice said.
The board also approved a reduction-in-force and to lay off one secretary, one custodian and three part-time kindergarten aides.
The secretary and custodian positions are from the junior high school building on the Belpre High School campus, which the board approved to close down and no longer use.
"We didn't need the space and we can save some money by not using it," said Superintendent Tony Dunn.
By closing the building, the district will save on electricity and heating, much in the same way the district has done with the former board administrative office on Washington Boulevard.
"Except we're trying to sell the board office," Dunn said.
Monday night's meeting was Dunn's first as superintendent since he was announced as the new superintendent in March.
He was hired with a $95,000 per year three-year contract beginning on May 1 and ending July 31, 2014.