Mad River schools to cut jobs, citing deficit spending, enrollment drop

Superintendent says more teaching jobs were at risk, but staff departures elsewhere limited RIF.

RIVERSIDE — Mad River Local Schools plans to cut teaching and other jobs, citing deficit spending and dropping enrollment.

The district is cutting one teacher’s position, not replacing two others who retired or resigned, eliminating five school therapists, and cutting four classified aides, according to Superintendent Chad Wyen.

Without dropping the therapist jobs, more teaching positions would be lost, he said. The issue is expected to be on the school district’s board of education agenda next month.

Mad River Education Association President Amy Holbrook criticized the cuts in a release issued Thursday.

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“After the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, our students deserve and require consistency and support, not more change or instability,” the teachers union president said.

“Now more than ever, Mad River students and their families need access to dedicated, experienced, and well-trained professionals who provide essential classroom instruction and vital support services,” Holbrook added.

The education association represents 220 teachers, counselors, media specialists, nurses and therapists, she said.

Holbrook said staff members have reported they were contacted by phone or were told in person that their positions had been identified to be cut, but added that she was told of the plan.

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Wyen said in an email that “based on staff retirements and resignations, most affected certified teaching staff members who were originally going to be part of our reduction in force have already been recalled into different positions within the district that align with their teaching license.”

Therapist services will be contracted to Samaritan Behavioral Health, which already has a school district agreement for one building, Wyen said.

The district is currently deficit spending by $1.16 million this year based on the projected May forecast, Wyen said. That amount would grow, eventually to $7.89 million by fiscal year 2026, unless spending cuts are made, he added.

The moves will save more than $682,000 annually, Wyen said.

Mad River’s enrollment has gone from 3,836 in 2019-20 to 3,710 in this school year, he said. The drop means the district has lost about $882,000 in state funding, “which has exacerbated the need for staff reductions that we could not have anticipated pre-COVID,” Wyen said.

District officials did not immediately respond Thursday to questions about the availability of federal COVID relief funds.

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