School board approves cutting 20 teachers

Published 4:32 pm Saturday, April 26, 2014

It’s that time of year again when Minnesota school districts, in compliance with state law, cut teachers for the sake of meeting budget numbers.

Mike Funk

Mike Funk

The Albert Lea school board approved the cuts Monday, prompting officials to send notices to 20 teachers.

Several of the cuts came to part-time teachers. Adding them up as full-time equivalents, the number of cuts comes to 11.2.

Email newsletter signup

State law says the districts must notify teachers in April whether their employment is being renewed after the school year ends in early June so they have reasonable time to find work.

Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk said none of the teachers affected were tenured. He said the cuts won’t impact the music program — a source of contention over recent years.

Four kindergarten teachers were notified that they will be cut. Funk said that is because the district doesn’t know what its kindergarten enrollment will be in 2014-15. He said the four teachers likely will be rehired because estimates are looking strong. The district continues to have growing elementary numbers, a sign of the increasing number of young families in the city.

Enrollment is down at the Albert Lea Learning Center, the alternative high school at Brookside Education Center. Staffing changes occur as a result, and Funk said projections show the enrollment will continue to decline. Four positions were cut, but the

reductions most likely won’t affect the teachers who taught there. It will affect teachers with the least seniority.

A 10 percent reduction in Title I funding, federal money to assist in educating children from low-income families, resulted in cuts, too, Funk said.

He said state funding for education this year was the strongest he had seen it since he became superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools in 2009. He said that prevented the district from needing to hand out more pink slips.

Teachers affected are Lynn Van Nurden, Sara Kirsch, Jenna Vogelsang, Kayla Olson, Kristin Walker, Diane Meza, Samantha Gasper, Marcia Sczublewski, Cynthia Bixby, Jordan Buse, Annie Mattson, Judy Swee, Lioba Forman, Richard Daymont, Dennis Walsh, Valerie Poppy, Jesse Frisinger, Joshua Bain, Charles Huber and Emma Habben.

High school principal to leave

The Albert Lea school board on Monday accepted the resignation of Albert Lea High School Principal Jim Wagner, who is nearing the end of his second year in the position.

Jim Wagner

Jim Wagner

Wagner will become the superintendent of Kimball Area Public Schools in Kimball, about 20 miles south of St. Cloud.

He came from the St. Cloud area. He had been an assistant principal at Monticello High School in Monticello, about 28 miles southeast of St. Cloud along the Interstate 94 corridor.

Funk said Wagner’s wife remained employed in the St. Cloud area and Wagner had been renting in Albert Lea.

Wagner was on vacation Friday and could not be reached for comment.


About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

email author More by Tim