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RCS proposes eliminating eight teacher positions

The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District has announced that eight teachers will lose their jobs as district officials hammer out a new budget for the 2009-10 school year.

The district's interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Johnson presented a preliminary budget to the RCS Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 23. The nearly $42.86 million preliminary budget calls for a spending increase of $957,238 over the current budget, and has a projected tax levy increase of 4.44 percent.

This was an especially painful budget to develop as our district is faced with more than $2 million of increased costs, Johnson stated on the district's Web site.

In Johnson's presentation on Monday night he detailed how the staff cuts would affect class size. Currently the district's two elementary schools have class sizes ranging from 14 to 22 students per class. Under the proposed budget, class sizes next year would increase to 15 and 23 students per class.

In the middle school, class sizes would increase from 16 to 20 students per class to 21 to 23 students per class.

However, Johnson said that even with the additional students in each class the increase would still allow the district to maintain its class-size guidelines of 19 to 23 students per kindergarten through grade 2 classes and 24 to 26 students per grade 3 through 8 classes.

Johnson said the teacher cuts could have been worse.

"Facing a $2 million budget dilemma forced us to look at staff reductions," Johnson said. "I clearly understand the pain this causes to those affected. Our administrators have personally notified the eight teachers with the least seniority in the district who, at this time, unfortunately, will not have a job in our district next year. I am hopeful that through potential leaves of absences, maternity leaves, and other voluntary staff changes that we will be able to reduce some of this impact."

The proposed budget includes a reduction of 20 teaching positions, but due to retirement and other forms of attrition, only eight teachers would lose their jobs.

In the neighboring Bethlehem Central School District, Superintendent Dr. Michael Tebbano is presenting his proposed district reductions during his school's regular board of education meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday, Feb. 24, starting at 7 p.m.

For more on this story check back at www.spotlightnews.com or read the Wednesday, March 4, print edition of The Spotlight.""

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