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APOLLO-RIDGE SCHOOL DISTRICT: Directors extend deadline for layoff notices

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on March 26, 2013 10:40 AM

SPRING CHURCH — The Apollo-Ridge school board on Monday amended the faculty labor contract, extending the deadline by which it must notify teachers of pending layoffs.

The action extends the deadline by two weeks, pushing it from April 1 to April 15.

It’s significant because it gives the district a cushion in determining whether layoffs will be necessary in 2013-14.

As the contract was written, the district had to give notification on the same day teachers are required to declare their intent to enroll in a standing retirement-incentive program.

The problem with the dual deadlines, officials said, is that the district is contractually obligated to use attrition as the first means to making staff reductions. So with the deadlines on the same day, the district doesn’t have enough time to determine whether retirements would be sufficient to avoid layoffs, should they be deemed necessary.

And whether they will be is unclear.

“We need to assess where we’re at,” said Superintendent Matt Curci.

The board is set to receive the administration’s proposed 2013-14 budget next month.

Four faculty members already have given notice of their intent to retire: first-grade teacher Jan French, second-grade teacher Gloria Notte, literacy specialist Sandy Curci, and speech and language therapist Carol Leonard.

The board accepted their resignations Monday. They are effective June 11.

The contract with the union expires in August, and bargaining on a new deal has begun.

On another budget front, Curci said the district will again look at operating on a four-day workweek over the summer, saying the decision to do so in the past two summers yielded thousands of dollars in savings on utility bills.

The four-day week was an initiative under former Superintendent Margaret “Peggy” DiNinno, who proposed it as an experimental precursor to a four-day school week. The district, however, never did pursue the idea, and Curci said a four-day school week is not on the table.

In other matters, Curci said administrators have set a new policy barring public use of the Apollo-Ridge Community Fitness Trail during school hours.

Curci said that allowing public access to the trail when school is in session poses a security issue.

He said members of the public were out on the trail at times it was being used by students.

Also Monday night, the board approved the purchase of new cafeteria equipment. The equipment, a steamer, two convection ovens and a refrigerator, is being purchased through a statewide purchasing contract.

With the cost of installation included, the new equipment will cost $29,450.

In addition, administrators announced that graduation has been set for June 7, the last day of school for students.

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