Coupeville schools hit by large staff reduction

The Coupeville wolf pack will see a significant drop in its members and resources next year, but alpha leaders have promised the group that it will still be fit to thrive in its environment.

The most recent budget update to come out of the Coupeville School District lists 17 employees who have received reduction-in-force notices and 15 employees who have either filed to resign, retire or take leave. Of those 32 positions, only one, a retiring bus driver, will be replaced in full.

Superintendent Patty Page said every name on the list represented someone who has provided a great gift to the Coupeville students, but when the district is working towards closing a $1.3 million gap, cuts have to be made.

“It’s pretty daunting when you look at the number of staff members that have either resigned or gone on leave that we aren’t replacing,” Page said. “It is truly significant and there’s no other way to say it. It is gut wrenching. It is devastating to the people.”

Page said she believes the district will still be able to provide a safe, loving and nurturing learning environment for students with the staff decrease and will continue to present students with the core classes needed to be competitive for colleges and post-graduation careers. However, it was clear that the staff cuts will result in some serious drawbacks.

“In a district this size, when you RIF this many, you’re cutting a lot of years of experience, and it will be missed,” School Board President Kathleen Anderson said.

If the present staffing situation were to stand through fall 2011, many programs would be affected. Next year the district will have a counselor serving the high school students, but no full-time counselor will be assigned to the other two schools. This year, three counselors service the district.

Like in the Oak Harbor district, Coupeville’s kindergartners will begin doing a full-day, alternating-day program instead of attending school for a half day everyday. The Cedar Program, now housed at Fort Casey, will move to annex classrooms on Main Street and will no longer serve high schoolers.

Additionally, grades sixth through 12th will see a reduction in library services and elementary school students’ music and art time will be decreased.

Page said if there is an enrollment spike come September, she hopes to be able to restore some staff positions and programs, but for now, the program adjustments will remain in place.


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