Durango School District 9-R notified 19 employees Friday that their jobs are expected to be eliminated next school year.
Most of the layoffs are occurring at Durango High School because the school district expects a loss of more than 200 students next year when Animas High School, a charter school, opens. Also, the incoming freshman class is smaller than the graduating senior class at DHS, said 9-R Superintendent Keith Owen.
"It's a tough thing to go through," but some employees are expected to be rehired next week for other positions within the school district, he said.
The district is eliminating 10 classified positions and will not renew nine certified positions. Certified positions include teaching jobs, and classified positions include secretaries, library aides, classroom aides, custodial staff and special-education assistants.
The nine teachers who lost their jobs are probationary teachers - those who have been at the school district for three consecutive years or less, Owen said.
District 9-R is projecting 120 to 140 fewer students next year, resulting in about a $1 million loss in state funding. Owen could not immediately say how much the district expected to save from the layoffs, but he said the staff reduction will help balance the district's finances. The district's budget this year was about $39 million.
Next week, the school district expects to post up to 15 vacancies for teachers in elementary and secondary schools, Owen said. It is possible that some of the teachers who will be laid off will qualify for those vacancies, he said.
The district was looking at cutting up to 20 teaching jobs, but that has been reduced to nine, in part because about five teachers were transferred to new positions Friday.
Not all of the teaching positions will be eliminated; some teachers were let go for other reasons and will be replaced, Owen said.
Also next week, the school district will look at transferring some of the 10 classified employees to other positions within the district for which they qualify.
Employees were notified of the specific layoffs Friday rather than at the end of the school year to relieve nervousness over not knowing whether they would have a position next year, Owen said.
Now is also the time when other school districts are hiring, which gives employees a chance to look for work elsewhere, said Njal Schold, president of the Durango Education Association, the 9-R teachers union.
"Notification had to happen, because the anxiety level was getting pretty high," Schold said.
He expressed satisfaction with how the school district and association worked together to resolve the cutbacks.
"I'm happy with how we've worked through it so far," he said.
More position reductions are expected to be announced next month that will affect only administrative and central office employees, Owen said.