Big cuts on the way for Scottsdale Unified School District - KMSP-TV

Big cuts on the way for Scottsdale Unified School District

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It's been a tough couple of weeks for Scottsdale schools.  Faced with a big budget shortfall, the district is looking at laying off dozens of teachers and staff.

Teachers were even asked if they'd be willing to give back performance bonuses, which could cost some teachers a lot of money.

The teachers sent a clear message with their vote.  After years of stagnant and in some cases, declining pay, they want to keep their bonuses, which amount to about $1,900.

The district is now coming up with a plan to close its budget shortfall.  A plan that includes laying off about 100 teachers.

Scottsdale Unified Schools, one of the largest districts in the state, faces a $9.8 million shortfall.

One of its first moves was to ask its more than 1,500 teachers to give back their voter approved performance bonuses.  The teachers shot that down.

"Teacher compensation is a big issue when we want to keep quality teachers.. that is a big piece of it. It really needs to be the last option to be looked at before we do anything else," said Rony Assali, who is a teacher and president of the Scottsdale Education Association.

So far, 103 teachers have received layoff notices.

"Every year, it seems that compensation goes down, insurance costs go up, workload increases. The whole idea of respecting the quality of what a good educator is and treating them with respect doesn't seems to exist anymore," said Assali.

Some parents are so concerned, they've started a Facebook group called Respect our Scottsdale students, advocating for minimal cuts for teachers and programs.

"There are a lot of unknowns right now," said Carla Partridge.

Partridge is with the district.  Thanks to a lot of feedback, she says the district plans to maintain art, music and physical education programs, but will likely have to increase class size by two and cut 21 administrative positions, but that's not nearly enough.

"We do have an amazing budget committee that is made up of parents and community members and administrators who are working diligently, turning over every rock to determine where might be the best place to cut," said Partridge.

She added that this is all thanks to the state budget and the legislature.  Until the budget for next fiscal year is finalized, they won't know for sure how bad the cuts are going to be, but the district and teachers are preparing for the worst case scenario.

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