Budget Shortfall Could Mean Fewer Teachers

Tuesday, March 6th 2007, 8:07 pm
By: News On 6

A Rogers County school district is $500,000 in the hole, now the school board is considering laying off several employees, including four teachers. Catoosa School parents were shocked to find their district in this shape. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports the school could lose six certified employees; and many more support personnel have already been given notice.

Catoosa is letting teachers go because the superintendent says the district is $500,000 short. Superintendent Larry Cale is recommending to the school board trim $250,000 by laying off four classroom teachers, a school nurse, and the in-school suspension coordinator.

"We hate this," Larry Cale said.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do," said Gretta Wisely.

Wisely is packing up her office after almost a decade on and off with Catoosa schools. She's one of the support personnel laid off, and she says there are several more.

The school board held a meeting Tuesday night to schedule a hearing to consider the superintendents proposed cuts. So many people showed up, they had to change the location, and dozens of students chanted outside, ‘Save our staff.’

"I believe its ridiculous,” Catoosa freshman Alisha Rhine said. “We already have 35 kids in the class at a time. There are kids that have to sit on the floor in my first hour class.”

The board voted unanimously without discussion to schedule the hearing on the superintendent's recommendations.

So, why is Catoosa in this situation? Superintendent Larry Cale says there are two reasons, one, Cale says Catoosa expanded to full-day kindergarten, which racked up record enrollments and bigger bills than expected. Secondly, he says last year's $3,000 pay raises for teachers weren't fully funded by the state, adding an extra $250,000 bill.

State education officials say Catoosa is the first district to lay off employees to pay for the raises.