Ray USD to make significant budget cuts, staff changes

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By Mila Besich-Lira

The Ray Unified School board recently announced it would cut its annual district budget due to rising costs in health care for employees, reduced funding from the state and decreased enrollment. The combination of factors will result in a cut of $400,000 from the 2013-14 budget.

Last week, the board approved numerous cost saving measures including raising pre-Kindergarten registration to $100 per semester, moving fifth and sixth grade students to the primary school and seventh and eighth graders to the high school. The move will help the district to consolidate administration and reduce utility and maintenance costs for the district.

Mrs. Pacheco will be the principle for the primary school for grades pre-K thorugh 6. Mr. Cook will be the Superintendent and principal for the Junior High and High School students. The board members explained that the junior high students will still have their eighth grade promotions and will not be on the same bell schedule as the high school.

The board also approved staffing changes to balance the budget. They accepted the resignation of first grade teacher Peggy Thompson at the end of 2014 school year, as well as the resignations of Nicole Sosa and Sara Acevedo. Ms. Roxanna Fuerstenberg, the math teacher at the high school, received a notice not to re-employ. Board President Cude explained that Fuerstenberg jumped in and helped the school when they needed a math teacher but she had to be RIF because she was not certified to teach math.

The board also approved several certified staff transfers. Margi Casillas was transferred from 5/6 grade teacher to a Title I math, Dejah Quintana was transferred from a PE teacher to a 5th or 6th grade instructor and Chandra Wiegert was moved from special education to fourth grade.

Seventh and eighth grade math teacher Matthew Rosenberry and Cheryl Hinojos, the office clerk for the high school and elementary school, will receive a reduction in force at the end of the year.

The board voted to revise the pay and job title for head custodian Teri Bravo. District business manager Joanne Warren will return to full time employment status at her current rate of pay. Due to the consolidation of duties for Mr. Cook, the board voted to create a junior high athletic director and to hire a part time custodian to clean the school offices.

Several stipends will be adjusted for the upcoming school year. Curt Cook and Rochelle Pacheco will receive additional stipends for grant coordination and Virginia Maes will also receive an extra duty stipend. Stipends for the sponsors of the elementary Student Council and yearbook will be eliminated and the stipends for high school National Honor Society, Student Senate and yearbook sponsors will be reduced.

The board also approved several donations and fundraisers for the district. ASARCO will donate $10,000 to the Marine ROTC program and Ace Pipe Cleaning donated $5,000 for district athletics. The board also accepted a cash donation of $3,170 from the football team golf tournament.

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