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FHS faces staff cuts

Knox County Schools projects a $15 million budget shortfall this year and superintendent Dr. James McIntyre has suggested making it up by cutting staff positions — 16 of which would come from Farragut High School.

As was first reported on Farragut First Edition, Russ Oaks, KCS director of public affairs, said the recommendation was made because of a student-to- teacher ratio.

“What we have looked at, as a system, is a staffing ratio that is based on our desired student/teacher ratio and poverty level — the number of students in the school who receive free and reduced lunch — because that is largely an indicator of a student at risk not to succeed.

A smaller student-to-teacher ratio is required for schools with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch students.

“That is just the number that falls out of Farragut High School,” Oaks added.

Ann Slagle, FHS PTSO president, does not think the ratio is a fair way to decide which schools will have positions cut.

“Farragut has the smallest percentage of free and reduced lunch kids in the county … so here we are being penalized for having parents who make money,” she said.

“Sixteen staff positions in core classes is a huge hit, especially since last year they cut 14 teaching positions. To ask us to cut 16 again — 30 positions in two years, that is devastating,” Slagle added.

According to Ed Hedgepeth, director of secondary education, this round of cuts is the follow-up to the 14 positions cut at FHS at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.

“We began this process last year, the staffing ratio. We didn’t fully implement it in our middle and high schools. We did a ratio and we took half of that ratio last year so this is just the second phase, or the fully phasing in of the use of the staffing ratio at the high school level,” he said.

Slagle is in the process of organizing a community effort to fight the cuts.

“We need to get everyone involved. Everyone needs to take this very seriously and we need to do something about it,” she added.

“It is our future and we need to fight for it. Our kids are worth fighting for.”


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