No layoffs in latest RIFs at Beaver

LISBON – The Beaver Local Board of Education approved numerous reductions in force (RIFs) earlier this week, which will result in no layoffs. However, board members also approved a pair of resignations, including one that generated controversy when it was first proposed as a contract non-renewal.

The RIFs will eliminate a kindergarten teaching position at Rogers Elementary, a first-grade teaching position at Calcutta Elementary and a sixth-grade teacher at the middle school. Conversely, a new position was created for a second-grade teacher at Calcutta.

Superintendent Kent Polen explained there are currently four teachers for 85 first-graders at Calcutta, but only three second-grade teachers, however, and an additional teacher will be needed to account for the influx. According to Polen, the number of kindergarteners at Rogers doesn’t warrant a replacement for the loss of that teacher, who is retiring. In consultation with union representatives, a decision was made to implement revisit the position later in the summer if incoming student numbers call for its return. “We might end up adding that back in,” he said.

One RIF followed an amendment to the meeting agenda for the elimination of a sixth-grade teaching position at the middle school. The teacher will remain with the district, moving on to a vacant seventh-grade math teaching position. Polen says that a fifth-grade position had been terminated last year due to fewer students making their way through the system; there are 139 fifth-graders this year. “That took the fifth grade down to six teachers, and we’re going to do the same thing with sixth grade on up,” he said.

Between the reassignment of the middle-school teacher, and retirements for both the Rogers and Calcutta teachers, Polen emphasized that this round of RIFs will result in no job losses.

Two district teachers who are ending their employment with Beaver Local are intervention specialists Marta Evans from West Point Elementary and Kathleen Mahoney Chianese, from the middle school. Chianese’s contract had been recommended for non-renewal at the April 14 meeting but board members voted to table the measure following an executive session.

Evans’ resignation is effective May 30. Chianese’s takes effect Aug. 20.

Chianese, Beaver Local Education Association representatives, school board members and the superintendent have all declined to comment on the details of the matter.

During the public comment portion, district transportation supervisor Jaye Cochran requested a meeting of the transportation committee, including all board members, “for the consideration of present and upcoming transportation issues.” Cochran said she has requested a meeting since the beginning of the school year without success. She also claimed that, unlike most meetings, she was not contacted of the committee’s previous meeting until the day it occurred. “I was not notified until that afternoon,” she said. “I was told it was in the paper.”

Board President Greg Eisenhart was about to continue with the agenda when Lance Shultz interjected, suggesting that they schedule the meeting immediately to address those issues. “Let’s take a look at a calendar and set a date,” he said. The meeting was set for 7 p.m. May 21

In other business, the first reading of a new district drug testing policy for students involved in non-academic activities was approved unanimously. The full text of the policy is available at the district Web site, and Eisenhart invited parents and other members of the community with comments or questions to contact the superintendent’s office by May 31.