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Education

School staff cuts OK'd by Ottawa Hills board

Savings of $180,000 expected in budget

The Ottawa Hills Board of Education Tuesday afternoon approved $180,000 worth of staff cuts that are expected to cost two part-time teachers and one retiree who has continued teaching in the district their jobs.

The reductions are part of a $936,000 austerity plan for the 2011-12 school year that Superintendent Kevin Miller presented last month to the school board. He said everything else in the plan either had already been approved or did not require board action, the latter including such items as not hiring extra summertime janitorial help.

The biggest saving among the items approved Tuesday is from the nonrenewal of the district's contract with Duane Elliott, a retiree who has continued to teach wood technology, architectural drawing, and drafting classes year to year.

Cutting Mr. Elliott's job and those classes will save the district a projected $99,801.

The other cuts affect a part-time art teacher, a part-time physical education teacher, and the Ottawa Hills Elementary School's guidance counselor. Mr. Miller said the counselor will transfer into a classroom teaching position that is opening because of a retirement, but the two part-time teachers will be laid off.

Elementary-school and junior-high guidance services will be merged into one position, with one guidance counselor available to high-school students.

The four cuts follow by three months the board's decision to lay off a paraprofessional, a secretary, and a maintenance worker, cuts that took $147,135 out of the 2011-12 budget. Mr. Miller's budget-cutting plan also anticipates not replacing a mathematics teacher who is retiring, to save $103,000 in pay and benefits. An additional $140,000 was saved for next year when district teachers consented to forgo 3 percent raises in their union contract.

School officials have said such cuts were needed even though Ottawa Hills voters approved a 7.6-mill operating levy in November.

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