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District 26 plans to bring back more specials

Hiring the additional staff will lead to 11.5 new full-time positions

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 4:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 11:45 p.m. CDT

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CARY – More staff members, who would be assigned to teach noncore classes, are set to be employed by District 26.

Under a staffing plan proposed by school administrators, District 26 plans to bring back media center, foreign language, computer technology teachers and band directors, among other positions.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposed staffing plan at its meeting on Monday. Dedicated staff members to teach foreign language, health and computer technology at Cary Junior High are part of the Phase 2 return of specials. Specials were part of the major cuts the district underwent several years ago.

Junior high students will have six weeks each of health, art, music, foreign language and technology, as well as daily physical education.

The school district also plans to employ band directors, which have been paid for by the Cary Band Association since 2010-11 school year.

Cary Band Association President Scott Sampson said he looks forward to working with the district in the transition.

Even though the band association asked the district to take over the band program again, Sampson said the band association would continue to work with the district in some capacity.

The district is projecting it will have 1.5 positions for the fifth- through eighth-grade band program, but that might change depending on how many people sign up, said Superintendent Brian Coleman. Sampson said he anticipates more students to participate with the district running the band program. At the district’s elementary schools, art and music instruction would be doubled from 30 minutes a week to one hour a week under the plan.

The district also plans to add three learning center/media teachers, who will help elementary school students when they go to the schools’ libraries for a half hour a week.The district also plans to add a technology support specialist, as the district starts to use more iPads and SMART Boards.

“As we move forward and add these devices, it makes sense, and really is a necessity, that we maintain the devices and provide the maintenance for those,” Coleman said.

Hiring the additional staff will lead to 11.5 new full-time positions.

The district is projecting it will have a net loss of 92 students district wide, which is part of the continuing trend of declining enrollment. Because of that decline, the district plans to cut one classroom teacher. However, the district expects enrollment trends to stabilize in a few years. The net gain in teachers in the district is 10.5 positions.

Average class sizes in the district are expected to drop to 23.8 students from 25.5 students. “We’re in good shape with our class sizes,” Coleman said.

As part of the staffing plan, the district plans to hire new teachers at the base salary for the new positions and for replacements for retirees.

However, in order to keep continuity of the band program, the district might stray off that guideline, Coleman said.

The estimated cost for the new positions is $488,250, which has been incorporated into the district’s financial plan.

“Moving forward, we feel the plan that we’re going to recommend on Monday is affordable over the next several years,” Coleman said. “It’s sustainable based on our financial projections.”

What’s next?

The School District 26 Board is scheduled to vote on the staffing plan at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Cary Junior High at 2109 Crystal Lake Road.

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