As another school year winds down, Mesa County Valley School District is looking ahead to the next school year.

In her weekly update on the school district website, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Diana SIrko addressed the issue of overstaffing in the district and why changes are being made.

POSITIONS REDUCED ACROSS THE SYSTEM

Dr. Sirko says they have reduced positions across the system over the past three years. She says it started with central administration then support positions, instructional coaching, curriculum, student services, and professional development. She says this year, overstaffing will be addressed at the school level.

WHY ARE CHANGES BEING MADE?

There are a number of reasons changes are being made. Dr. Sirko says Mesa County's school staffing ratios are greater than districts of comparable size, student enrollment is down, and starting teacher salaries are below the state average. She says by getting staff-to-student ratios closer to those in comparably sized districts, Mesa County can get teacher salaries closer to the state average. There were about 900 fewer students enrolled at the beginning of this school year.

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CHANGES WITHOUT LAYOFFS?

The Mesa County School District employs nearly 3,000 people, and so far, one hundred of them have announced they will be retiring or resigning in 2021. Sirko says with so many people leaving voluntarily, it may be possible to take care of over-staffing issues without laying people off. She says individuals who need to be reassigned can apply for other openings in the district. The school district has some additional federal funds for the next two years that could be used for student intervention during the school year as well as summer school positions.

The past year has been extremely challenging for Colorado school districts trying to navigate the pandemic. Dr. Sirko mentioned that Mesa County is the largest school district in the state to remain open the entire school year. The teachers, staff, and students have done an amazing job of getting through the school year. Hopefully, nobody loses their job in the coming months. With any luck, when school resumes this fall, things will be closer to normal than ever.

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