The futures of 71 Kyrene Elementary School District teachers now officially depend on a sales tax vote and other budget considerations.
The Kyrene governing board voted to give reduction-in-force notices to 70 first- and second-year teachers and one third-year physical education teacher Tuesday night in case voters don’t approve a one-cent sales tax increase on May 18.
Kyrene is likely to have at least a $6 million budget deficit next year due to declining enrollment, reduced state funding and the economy. With about 50 teachers expected to retire or otherwise leave on their own next year, Kyrene administrators don’t believe they would have to cut any additional teachers under that scenario.
However, if voters don’t approve Proposition 100, that deficit is likely to grow to $11.8 million due to larger cuts to state funding. That would require cutting more staff members and raising class sizes by an average of three students per class.
The board voted to hand out reduction in force notices Tuesday in order to meet an April 15 deadline to notify teachers they won’t have jobs next year. However, some or all of those teachers could be called back if the budget allows it.
Board member Ellen Shamah recently went to a national school board conference and noted that teachers are receiving similar layoff notices across the country this year.
"I’m usually a very upbeat person, but I was very frustrated," Shamah said. "We’re only doing what we have to, but I wish I could say it was just Arizona."
Board president Ross Robb similarly voiced his distaste for the reduction in force, calling for the board vote "with a heavy heart and hope for much brighter times in the future." The measure passed 5-0.