Sunnyside: Budget woes mean fewer teachers, bigger classes

2013-02-13T07:59:00Z 2013-02-13T13:27:34Z Sunnyside: Budget woes mean fewer teachers, bigger classesJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Sunnyside Unified School District governing board voted Tuesday night to cut 18 teachers and shut down its Family Resource and Wellness Center.

Eliminating that many teaching positions will raise class sizes at grade levels throughout the district.

Those two moves were among many the board took in an effort to close its budget gap.

Other moves included eliminating dropout recovery teachers and coordinators, and reducing overtime pay for off-duty police officers by 25 percent.

The reductions and elimination of positions will save the district almost $3 million.

Sunnyside is facing a budget deficit ranging between $3.2 million and $4.6 million.

The number depends on whether or not the district receives in $1.4 million in inflationary funding from the state.

State lawmakers stopped giving school districts money for inflation in 2010, but the Court of Appeals ruled that the state owed the money to the districts.

Sunnyside officials are aiming to save $4 million.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting, which was moved to Sunnyside High School to accommodate the crowd.

The governing board allowed two hours for teachers, parents and students to speak in support of their jobs and programs.

Class sizes will increase from 24 to 25 students per class in kindergarten and first grade, and 27 and 29 in second through fifth grades.

Freshman class sizes would rise from 25 to 30 students in each class.

Classes in tenth through twelfth grades already have 30 students.

The class sizes posed the biggest concern for board members and district officials, but the board ultimately decided to vote for the size increases.

“I realize we have to make certain cuts, but, as an educator, you know class sizes are really detrimental to academics,” said board member Eva Carrillo Dong.

Board member Daniel Hernandez Jr. expressed concern about the Family Resource and Wellness Center, wanting reassurance that its clothing and food bank programs would move to another location.

“We need to be mindful of shifting services to another location, Hernandez said.

 Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4115. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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