We all hear them. Sometimes we believe them. Sometimes, we even pass them on before we've verified them as to their accuracy.
What with the recent budget cuts, and the next round of budget cuts expected to happen in the area of education, the local school rumor mill has been churning on all sorts of content and spewing it out. Believe me, here at Prescott eNews, we've been inundated with questions and reports and unverified "facts" about what will happen next year.
Some of the most disturbing were the reports of information that supposedly teachers had given to the students. After all, shouldn't teachers be professional, and not feed kids with rumors and unverified information? Shouldn't they be teaching subjects like English, Math and Social Studies, rather than Rumor Perpetuation 101?
So we finally sent Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp an email crammed with questions about what is going to happen, what is being discussed and what definitely won't happen. Superintendent Kapp was gracious enough to answer candidly everything we tossed at him, which was a mix of rumor and brainstorming ideas. We thought it important to share his responses (which are in italics below) with our readers.
Kapp writes, "I’ll answer your questions the best I can. Many answers will be 'we don’t know yet….'."
1. Have you 'forced a nurse to retire?'
Forced a nurse to retire? No and that’s a ridiculous rumor.
2. Are all nurses absolutely going to lose their jobs? Is that a done decision?
Nurses losing their jobs? That is possible, depending on how deep the budget cuts have to go, depending on the Legislature. No decision yet – Governing Board makes final decision on all budget cuts.
3. Will there be 65 kids per English class next year at Prescott High School?
65 kids in English at PHS next year? No.
4. Will all electives be removed?
Electives removed? We don’t know yet. We’re still formulating various budget reducing plans and electives across the district are “on the table” as is everything.
5. Will PHS Lose Jr. ROTC?
PHS lose Jr. ROTC? Very, very unlikely. I can’t give anything a 100%, but I’d say that maintaining JrROTC is a 99.9%.
6. Will every teacher who has been with the district for 3 years or less absolutely be terminated?
All PUSD staff hired within the last three years will receive a Reduction in Force letter by April 15 unless a miracle occurs with the Legislature. Receiving a “RIF” letter does not mean the person will lose their job and in fact, the vast majority of “RIF’d” staff will be rehired once the budget cuts are made and senior staff are transferred if their program is reduced or cut.
7. Will Northpoint be closed?
Closing Northpoint is currently not an administrative recommendation nor has any school board member recommended this action.
8. Have any final decisions been made yet? What will have to be voted on by the Board, and what will be enacted by the DLT only to be disclosed later when its a done deal?
The Governing Board may vote on budget reducing recommendations in early May, but we want to wait as long as possible to see what level of budget cutting we really have to do once the Legislature makes decisions. It’s important to remember that PUSD has done nothing wrong! In fact, PUSD has done everything right. Our enrollment has been on the increase, we’ve added programs, our students achievement scores are above the County, State and surrounding districts. The District Leadership Team, along with representatives from our employee association groups and two school board members, are working very hard to formulate various levels of budget reducing strategies. All decisions have to be approved by the Governing Board in an open meeting.
9. What other options are being looked at? Scheduling changes? Four day work weeks? Reductions in field trips? Change in athletic schedules?
Just about everything is being studied. Ideas like a 4-day week and major scheduling changes are being studied for future years and not next year. Moving to a 4-day week for next year, for example, would be disastrous to families with such short notice. Field trips are 100% paid for from tax credits, so cutting field trips won’t help the Maintenance and Operations budget. Thus, as long as tax credits keep rolling in, field trips will continue. Athletics are primarily paid for from tax credits and Pay-to-Play fees, but a small amount of M & O is used and thus we have already made changes to athletic trips such as putting JV and Freshmen on the same bus.
10. How about merging schools?
Merging schools is not being studied at this time.
11. What about reduction in administrative staff?
Restructuring administrative staff with reductions is “on the table” and being studied.
12. Unilateral pay cuts?
An across-the-district pay decrease is “on the table”. For every 1% decrease, the district saves approximately $200,000.
Unpaid furloughs would occur if an across-the-district pay decrease occurs.
14. Reduced substitute pay?
Reducing substitute teacher pay is not being considered at this time. We’re already the lowest paying of the three local districts.
15. Closing of the preschool?
The tuition-based preschool is being considered for closure and will be on the April Board agenda at Mr. Campbell and Mrs. Navarro’s request.
16. Shorter bus routes?
Shorter bus routes are not being considered at this time. Remember, we receive state reimbursement based on the number of students transported along with the number of miles traveled, so reducing miles would reduce out state reimbursement.
17. More online courses?
Yes, our new A + online program is nearly up and running!
18. Closing of cafeterias?
Food Service is self-funded and although the Director is reducing costs, all cafeterias will remain open.
Kapp closed his responses by saying, "Thanks for asking for accurate information. Rumors are dumb."
So, there you have it. A rather comprehensive list of what is and is not being considered. Of course, there are likely questions that weren't asked or answered above. But, before you believe the next school-related rumor you're sure to hear at some point, it might be smart to check facts. Contact information for each of the Board Members is on the PUSD website Governing Board page; and you can reach Superintendent Kapp and other department heads via the District Departments page. School contact information is on the School Directory page, and further faculty contact info is linked from the individual school web pages.