Economy

Exclusive: Linn-Mar Schools’ Desperate Decision – 50 Staffers Out!

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A cloud of uncertainty and worry has descended on the Linn-Mar School District. On Thursday, the district confirmed a heartbreaking blow: 50 dedicated staff members will lose their jobs for the 2024/2025 school year.

The somber announcement came during Monday’s board meeting, where officials revealed a $2.5 million shortfall in the budget, despite already making $3 million in cuts this year.

Courtesy: @LinnMarGBB/Twitter

“This is a painful time for our district family,” said Amy Kortemeyer, Superintendent. “We recognize the immense value each staff member brings. These decisions were not made without careful consideration and a deep sense of the impact they will have. Unfortunately, to ensure our district’s financial future, we have no choice but to take this difficult step.”

The cuts will affect both teaching and support staff – 19 full-time teachers and 31 full-time classified staff members. District officials point to several factors behind the financial difficulties: the end of COVID-19 relief funds, inadequate state funding, and sadly, a drop in student enrollment.

“This isn’t just about numbers on a spreadsheet,” Kortemeyer emphasizes. “This is about real people, who support our children and enrich our community. We understand the ripple effect this news will have. Nevertheless, we’re committed to doing everything we can to weather this challenge, preserving the quality of education our students deserve.”

Courtesy: @LinnMarGBB/Twitter

Superintendent Kortemeyer’s Letter to District Families and Staff

Dear Families,

I am writing to let you know that, this past Monday during the Board of Education Meeting, the Linn-Mar Community School District announced approximately $2.5 million in reductions for the next, 2024-25, fiscal year.

To balance the budget, the district has made reductions in several areas, including those both related and unrelated to staffing.

These are very difficult decisions for us to make. Many school districts across the state are facing the same dilemma as we are, largely due to years of underfunding of state supplemental aid (SSA), the loss of ESSER (COVID relief) funding, and a drop in certified enrollment.

To date, we have taken several steps to address the budget shortfall, including gathering cost-saving ideas from staff, offering early separation incentives to teachers, extending these same incentives to administrators, and conducting a survey to gauge staff members’ intentions for the next school year.

The district made about $3 million in cuts this school year. However, next year’s reductions cannot be achieved through items unrelated to staffing, early separations, retirements, or resignations alone. Given that 80% of the district’s general fund budget comprises salaries and benefits, we will need to reduce our teaching staff by 19 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions and classified staff by 31 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for the 2024-25 school year.

Staff members affected by the reductions have been notified. We expect that some class sizes will return to pre-pandemic levels as a result of these actions (i.e. 21-25 at the elementary level). We look to make these budget reductions while minimizing, as much as possible, the impact on our students and the quality education they receive.

Public schools are the heart of our community, and our collective voices can be used to advocate for adequate funding for public schools. Please consider contacting your state legislators about this critical issue.

Thank you for your support of the Linn-Mar Community School District and the students we serve.

Sincerely,
Amy Kortemeyer, Superintendent

The Impact

While the district vows to minimize disruption, concerned parents and staff can’t deny a sense of unease. The staff reductions likely mean larger class sizes and a strain on those who remain. Yet, there’s also a thread of resilience woven into the fabric of the Linn-Mar community, a determination to face this hardship and protect the core mission of the school district.

In these trying times, Linn-Mar leaders call on families to become advocates – to raise their voices in support of public school funding and remind state legislators of the vital role their schools play.

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