Shakopee teacher speaks out on 'budget error'

A Shakopee Public Schools teacher, who said his job is getting cut, is speaking out about the district’s $4.5 million dollar “budget error” for this school year.

Fox 9 agreed not to identify the elementary school teacher. He told Fox 9 the first time he ever heard of the budget error was last Thursday, Mar. 9.

“Thursday afternoon, all non-tenured or probationary staff were called to a meeting. And basically told we didn’t have a position in our building, or anywhere in the district,” the teacher said. “At our building, I think it was about five classroom teachers, and we were told it was that many across the district, so maybe a total of ten.”

The superintendent emailed the district the next day, on Friday, Mar. 10. He was made aware of the error when the finance director mentioned it at a public school board meeting on Dec. 12, 2016.

As for the reason given for their jobs getting cut for next school year, the teacher said, “It was a combination of lower enrollment across the elementary schools and the budget error seemed to have caused them to change the policy and increase class size, so they would need less teachers.”

A spokesperson for Shakopee Public Schools sent Fox 9 an e-mail: “Our goal is to minimize non-tenured teachers being laid off. Historically, we have been able to avoid this from happening through attrition and growth. However, at this time we expect the number to be less than 10 non-tenured teachers. A few teachers have already received a “heads up” that there is a chance they could be laid off in order for them to be informed in a timely manner. Also, some non-tenured staff may have been told they are not continuing for other reasons such as: lack of student registration of classes at the secondary level, declining enrollment in a building or performance issues. We are still in the midst of the staffing process. If some teachers are laid off, there is still a chance in the future that through teacher retirements, resignations or teachers requesting leave, we may be able to recall them back. Our goal and intent is to minimize the impact on teachers.”

The teacher told Fox 9 the district’s communication on the budget and possible cuts has been less than ideal.

“It just sort of dropped on us. So the meetings I was at, people are crying. They’re frustrated, they’re losing their friends and co-workers,” he said. “At my building and in other parts of the district, people are very, very frustrated. A lot of information has come to light that happened months ago that we felt staff and the public should have known about.”