Staff cuts hit Sunnyside school district, but Ocotillo Early Learning Center spared

But board spares Ocotillo Early Learning Center
2013-04-10T00:00:00Z 2013-04-10T17:30:51Z Staff cuts hit Sunnyside school district, but Ocotillo Early Learning Center sparedJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Sunnyside Unified School District decided to cut truancy officers and middle-school instructional coach positions, but spared the Ocotillo Early Learning Center from any cuts.

The district Governing Board approved the cuts at Tuesday night's board meeting, held at Sunnyside High School, 1725 E. Bilby Road.

Sunnyside will reduce instructional coach positions at middle schools from 10 to five and will likely reassign the two truancy officers.

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

In the last couple of months, the Governing Board voted to cut 18 teaching positions, shut down the district's Family Resource and Wellness Center and reduce overtime pay for police officers, as well as other cuts.

The first round of reductions was expected to save the district $3 million.

District officials expected Tuesday night's cuts to save the district about $394,000.

Sunnyside still wanted to cut at least another $1 million entering Tuesday night's meeting.

More cuts will be needed, but it wasn't clear after Tuesday's board meeting where those reductions would occur.

Numerous staff members who work at Ocotillo, as well as parents, attended the meeting to support the facility.

Many of those people held signs and showed support for the center during the call to the audience.

District officials had recommended cutting teachers and instructional aides at the center, as well as reducing the Parents as Teachers program and eliminating the Family Literacy program.

Students who receive services for speech impairment would have still received treatment but would not have been able to attend the regular preschool program for free.

The audience applauded when the board decided to take the preschool off of the list of possible cuts.

Some of the board members were adamant in their decision to prevent reductions at the center.

Board member Daniel Hernandez Jr. said cuts to the center could have a long-term effect on the community.

"These are things where we will have to deal with the repercussions for decades," he 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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