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Proposal will cut 100 Allentown School District jobs

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 13 2014 10:34:56 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 04:14:14 PM CDT

The jobs of 74 teachers, 12 clerical staff, 10 paraprofessionals and four administrators would be eliminated in the latest budget proposal.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A total of 74 teachers, 12 clerical staff, 10 paraprofessionals and four administrators would be eliminated in the 2014-2015 Allentown School District budget under a proposal presented by Superintendent C. Russell Mayo during Thursday night's Education-of-the-Whole Committee meeting.

The 100 proposed cuts continue a dismal trend in the district in which staff continue to be cut while taxes continue to rise as the district continues to grapple with annual massive budget deficits.

Under the latest proposal, no programs in the district would be cut, thanks in large part to a continued and projected decline in enrollment.

In addition to the 100 job cuts announced, Mayo said another 29 positions - 14 in full-day kindergarten and 15 intervention specialists in the elementary schools - could be cut if the district is unable to designate their salaries under the Ready to Learn Grant, which Gov. Corbett used to replace the Accountability Block Grant in his proposed budget presented February 4th.

The district is slated to receive about $5.2 million in Ready to Learn Grant funding, a spike of about $3.7 million, from the Accountability Block Grant that ASD had received in previous years.

The drawback, however, is that the money has strict use guidelines and, to Mayo's understanding, is likely not to be reoccurring after this year.

While the administration continues to try to find out if those 29 positions can be claimed with that money, Mayo reiterated Thursday night he assumes the money can be used to save those 29 jobs. If not, 103 ASD teachers would be out of work.

As for the positions that would be eliminated under Mayo's proposal, 6.5 elementary school teachers in the English for Speakers for Other Languages program, 14 teachers in the district's special education program - with seven in the high schools, two in the middle schools and five in the elementary schools - would be laid off.

A total of 5.5 educators and one coach would be gone in the elementary school level, three middle school teachers and five intervention specialists would be let go in the middle schools, and 21 teachers and one athletic director would lose their jobs in the district's two high schools.

Of the 12 clerical staff positions, six would come from the high schools, four from middle schools, one from elementary schools and one from community and student services.

The 10 paraprofessional position cuts are currently vacant and the four administrative posts - two assistant high school principals, one elementary school principal and one accountability professional in the central office- could be reduced through attrition, Mayo said.

At next Thursday's Finance Committee meeting, Mayo told directors he would provide a "sense of impact on the budget" the cuts would have.

The district's preliminary $252 million budget includes a $10.6 million shortfall which already includes a 3.2 percent tax hike and $6.1 million in job cuts.

A total of 17.006 students are enrolled in the district during the current 2013-2014 school year, according to statistics quoted by Mayo on Thursday night.

That number is a decrease of 1,498 students from the 2006-2007 school year total of 18,504 students.

Projections indicate enrollment will drop sharply through the 2018-2019 school year, when only 15,577 students will be expected to receive their education through ASD.