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Published April 13 2010

Contracts of six Moorhead teachers not renewed

The Moorhead School Board did not renew the contracts of six probationary teachers Monday.

Unlike teacher cuts as part of a $4.5 million re-duction package last spring, district officials said, these non-renewals were not essentially a cost-saving move. The district is sticking with a decision earlier this spring to forgo trimming its budget for next year, even if the state ends up making much-feared funding cuts.

The Monday non-renewals reflected a mix of factors, Human Resources Director Ron Nielsen said: a dip in student numbers at the secondary level, a failure to complete probation successfully, and a need to comply with state licensing requirements.

“We are projecting a balanced budget in Moorhead next school year unless the state cuts our funding,” Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak said.

Next door in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, the board eliminated the equivalent of three full-time elementary teaching positions. The reductions will be absorbed by leaves and retirements, Superintendent Randy Bruer said, so teachers won’t have to be laid off. The district will reshuffle teachers across grades to fill elementary teaching needs.

In Moorhead, the district will maintain student-teacher ratios from last year, when it saw a jump in classroom sizes at the middle and high school levels, Nielsen said. “These FTEs are being added on to the elementary level, so we are essentially staying the same in the district,” Nielsen said, referring to full-time teaching positions.

Three of the non-renewed teachers Monday had to be terminated because they fall short of state licensing requirements. Minnesota allows districts to hire such teachers in hard-to-fill positions, such as science teachers, by granting them a temporary reprieve.

But at the end of the school year, the district needs to let them go. Only if it cannot fill those positions again during the summer can it hire back those teachers come fall.

The non-renewed teachers Monday teach English, science, math, special education and English as a Second Language.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529