Sunnyside may cut teachers, programs at Ocotillo center

2013-03-14T00:00:00Z Sunnyside may cut teachers, programs at Ocotillo centerJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Sunnyside Unified School District is considering cutting teachers and other positions at the Ocotillo Early Learning Center, scaling back the center but quelling fears about its possible closure.

A new recommendation by district administrators would cut three full-time teaching positions, a part-time teacher and at least four teaching assistants at the center, as well as reduce or eliminate support programs such as Family Literacy and Parents as Teachers.

The proposed cuts would likely increase class sizes by at least one student, said Sue Tillis, special education director for Sunnyside.

Students who receive services for speech impairment would still get treatment, but would not be able to attend the regular preschool program for free, Tillis said.

District administrators presented the recommended cuts Tuesday during a Governing Board study session.

The district is seeking to close a budget gap projected to range from $3.2 million to $4.6 million.

Last month, the governing board voted to cut 18 teaching positions, shut down its Family Resource and Wellness Center and reduce overtime pay for police officers, as well as other cuts that will save the district almost $3 million.

The district is attempting to cut another $1 million. The cuts to the Ocotillo Early Learning Center be about $442,000.

There were previous discussions about closing the center, but the facility would have never shut down because the district is required to provide preschool for special education students, Tillis said.

The recommendations presented during the study session will allow the facility to serve regular education students in addition to the special education students, she said.

"This plan preserves the integrated model of service," she said, referring to the mixture of regular and special education students.

In addition to Ocotillo, Sunnyside still has to make decisions on middle school truancy officers, library clerks and other programs and positions as officials work to close the rest of the budget gap.

The board will make its final cuts at its April 9 meeting.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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