BAKER — Laying off some nontenured teachers is part of a plan to save $1.2 million for the Baker School District, incoming Superintendent Herman Brister Sr. said after the School Board meeting Tuesday night.
“My goal is to present a balanced budget,” he told the board.
Brister, who replaced outgoing Superintendent Ulysses Joseph on May 28, said some of the schools are overstaffed and a few nontenured teachers would be laid off before the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, but he could not confirm how many would be eliminated.
The School Board, meanwhile, voted unanimously Tuesday to approve five new administrative positions. Only two of the positions — supervisor of student support services and assistant superintendent of innovation and student achievement — will be filled immediately, Brister said. The assistant superintendent will make about $90,000 a year and the supervisor $70,000 a year, he said.
The proposed layoffs are part of a belt-tightening plan outlined by finance director Sidney Stewart. Increasing the student-to-teacher ratio in Baker Schools to levels that don’t exceed the state guidelines will save money, she said.
The average student-to-teacher ratio has been 13:1 in Baker. State guidelines require one teacher for every 26 students at the kindergarten through third-grade level and one teacher for every 33 students in fourth through 12th grades, Stewart said.
The plan also calls for not filling vacant positions in the district office, adjusting staff hours and responsibilities, and changing some of the educational software used by the district, she said.
The district received $9.26 million in state Minimum Foundation Program funds in 2014-15, down from $11.05 million in 2013-14. The MFP disbursements are based largely on student enrollments. Baker schools have been losing students for years. In 2010-11, for instance, 1,912 students were enrolled in the district’s five schools. By 2014-15, only 1,449 students attended, Stewart said.
The MFP money supplies 65 percent of the district’s revenue, she said.
The 2015-16 budget will be calculated with the expectation that enrollment in the coming school year will remain the same as 2014-15, Brister said. “We hope it will go up, of course,” he said.
Along with the proposed staff changes, Brister has already revamped leadership at some Baker schools, appointing Baker Middle Assistant Principal Candace Jenkins to head failing Bakerfield Elementary and moving Hamilton Brock, who was also an assistant principal at Baker Middle, to the top position at the alternative school.
Placing Jenkins at Bakerfield is part of a plan to improve the school, which received an F grade four years in a row and narrowly avoided takeover by the state at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Joseph prepared a reconstitution plan for the school before leaving his position.
“We are working on putting more muscle behind that plan,” Brister said. Teachers are now being interviewed for positions at Bakerfield, he said.