The Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday will revisit its proposed "Reduction in Force" plan describing how it will cut certified teaching positions in order to help close its health insurance deficit.
Under the assumption that the state Legislature will not increase local education funding by raising the base student allocation, and that the Ketchikan School District's enrollment will continue to decline, the district is anticipating a $3 million deficit in its upcoming budget.
To close that gap, the district is tentatively planning to cut 57.5 full-time equivalent staff positions. Fifteen of those positions to be cut are currently vacant, administrators explained last month.
Though the district is planning to make reductions to all staff in the district, not just teachers, the Reduction in Force plan describes the process for cutting certified teaching positions, in accordance with the district's negotiated agreement with the Ketchikan Education Association, the district's largest teachers union.
The board considered approving the seven-page Reduction in Force plan at its Feb. 8 regular meeting, but postponed a decision to allow more members of the public to weigh in on the proposal.
The reduction in certified teaching positions would occur in the following way, per the proposed RIF plan:
• “The District will provide notice of non-retention to all non-tenured teachers that do not hold a Professional Alaska teaching certificate in reverse order of seniority.
• “The District will provide notice of non-retention to all non-tenured teachers (including non-tenured teachers who teach at the District 's charter schools) in reverse order of seniority.
• “The District may lay off tenured teachers who, because of the elimination of specific programs or regular education positions, are not qualified to teach in any District positions.
• “If the District still needs to reduce the number of teaching positions, the District will provide layoff notice to tenured teachers in reverse order of seniority.
• “The District may retain non-tenured teachers and place on layoff status a tenured teacher if there is no tenured teacher in the District who is qualified to replace the non-tenured teacher.”
The RIF plan also includes terms for the district to "recall" and reinstate teachers that have been laid off if the district's financial circumstances change.
Tenured teachers that have been notified of layoff could choose to take up to one year of unpaid leave. Those who do would be considered for recall at the end of their leave.
Also, laid-off tenured teachers would be given priority by seniority to serve as substitute teachers for the district, provided that they complete the necessary forms to do so.
Also on Wednesday, the board will discuss the board's finance committee and its budget timeline, and a superintendent evaluation for Michael Robbins. The board finance committee — consisting of board members Diane Gubatayao, Tom Heutte and Paul Robbins Jr. — will meet virtually at noon on Wednesday.
At the request of Board Vice President Keenan Sanderson, the board also will discuss possible policies to acknowledge historical Alaska Native land ownership at the start of the school day and school events, similar to the acknowledgement that the board reads at the start of each meeting, Board Clerk Crystal Vail explained in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Wednesday's meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers at 1900 First Ave. There will be time for public comment at the start of the meeting.
The meeting will be streamed live on the borough website at kgbak.us. The full meeting packet, including supplemental materials, can be found on the board website at schoolboard.kgbsd.org.