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Odessa faces $497K budget gap

    ODESSA—Members of the Odessa-Montour Teachers’ Association expressed their concerns about the current proposed budget cuts, during the Thursday, March 15, school board meeting.
    Superintendent Jim Frame has said the district is facing a $497,000 budget gap, which is after fund balance and reserve money has been used. Frame said the district is eliminating eight full-time equivalent positions in total. This includes three retirements and six staff cuts.
    The number is offset with the re-assigning of two part-time employees (or one full time equivalent position). Frame explained one half-time employee will take over for a retiring science teacher and the part-time librarian will replace the retiring district librarian.
    Teacher Stan Mathews said the association has been negotiating with the district, both on the state mandated Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) and Frame. He explained the teachers’ chief negotiator has been meeting with Frame for several months.
    “The teachers’ association is not dragging its feet,” said Mathews, addressing concerns that teachers haven’t been cooperating during negotiations. He added several teachers have been regularly attending the board workshops and regular meetings to be involved.
    Debra Harrington, board president, said “to be perfectly frank, the OMTA can come to us with solutions,” as opposed to problems. She added it would have been more productive to have the staff participate in the early stages of budget planning. Regarding the cuts the board is considering now, Harrington said “our hands are tied.”
    Mathews also suggested the board hold some sort of public forum to come up with possible budget solutions. Harrington said the board would consider it.
    In other business:
    • B.C. Cate Principal Sara Fontana and H.A. Hanlon Principal Chris Williams spoke about implementing the same reading program in grades kindergarten to six. Fontana said next year, the Reading Street series will be used in all elementary grades. She added the two schools are finalizing a pre-kindergarten to sixth grade math program as well.
    • Veronica Lewis, director of special programs, talked about the restructuring of the special education department. She explained the department tracks children from pre-kindergarten onwards to identify the best services to provide. She added the district offers programs for students through age 21.
    • Odessa-Montour will have district residents vote on the board being able to spend no more than $237,000 to purchase two new school buses.




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