Tonawanda News

June 11, 2014

TCSD eliminates teacher positions

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The Tonawanda City School Board approved the elimination of teacher positions at Tuesday's board meeting as part of an effort to save money in the 2014-2015 budget.

The reductions are the result of retirements and no teachers will be terminated. One elementary position, one part-time special education position and one part-time teacher assistant position will be eliminated effective July 1.

The board also discussed raising pay for substitute teachers. Although the district has a large list of approved subs, many of them say they are not available in the mornings when they are called, and teaching assistants often supervise the classes.

"We are having a major problem with a shortage of substitutes, and it became very bad this year, " Superintendent James Newton said.

Newton said he thought many of the teachers were taking other jobs instead due to higher pay rates in nearby districts. Many other districts pay at least $85 per day, he said. 

The policy currently states that subs who fill in for the same teacher for 20 consecutive days receive $100 per day. Newton asked that the policy allow teachers who are in the district with any teacher for 20 nonconsecutive days receive the higher rate of pay.

The district's openings will soon be posted on an online site, which district officials are hoping will help solve the problem. The district could hire substitutes who aren't fully certified as teachers, and Board President Sharon Stuart advised that the substitute positions are posted more often.

"I don't mind looking at the higher pay if we reach out and explore other solutions," Board member Jennifer Mysliwy said. 

The board will review its policy and discuss the issue further at the next meeting. Newton also asked for a higher rate of pay for substitute nurses, and the board decided to raise the rate from $13 per hour to $15 per hour.

Interim Financial Manager Richard Hitzges also told the board that the Management Advisory Group has completed a review of the district's process of claiming state aid.

"The process and procedures in place are working well, but we can improve in some areas," Hitzges said.

The review found an extra $103,000 that can be claimed over the next two years. The review cost $11,500, but the district will receive 70 to 80 percent of that figure back from the state.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.