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Tucson school districts make massive cuts to reduce costs

Teachers, classes, programs on chopping block, Fagen resigns

The three biggest school districts in Pima County announced massive cuts Tuesday night in an effort to reduce budget deficits.

Tucson Unified, Sunnyside and Amphi districts laid off nearly 700 teachers, staff and administrators. This could change if voters approve Prop. 100 – a 1 percent sales tax – in May.

Furlough days, salary cuts, school mergers and elimination of programs were also proposed to reduce looming budget gaps, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Amphi school district
• 213.2 full-time-equivalent positions cut; 117.7 would be saved if Prop. 100 passes.
• No full-day kindergarten at non-Title I schools; Parents pay $1,300 per school year to keep it.
• An across-the-board 2 percent salary reduction.

Tucson Unified School District
• 64 administrators may be laid off.
• 195 certified staff members - mostly teachers - have been placed in a transfer pool to compete for 111 vacancies.
• 4 school closures as part of an optional merger incentive.

Sunnyside School District
• Nearly 400 employees will be laid off, including 320 teachers.
• Employees will take five furlough days.
• No new textbooks next year.

Sunnyside Executive Director of Human Resources Anna Maiden told KVOA that if Prop. 100 passes, the district could restore some of the nearly 400 jobs it plans to eliminate, but not all.

"We will already be bringing a number of them back. We simply have to, we can't conduct business or run the district without at least a hundred plus returning."

She said if it does pass, they could bring back as many as 175 positions.

Amphi board President Rhonda Ball told KOLD that the cuts would have long-term affects.

"It affects the quality of education, affects class size for our students, people's lives. I'm concerned."

TUSD's Fagen resigns

TUSD Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen submitted her resignation to the Governing Board on Tuesday.

Fagen will take a job as superintendent of the Douglas County School District in Colorado.

In a letter to the board, Fagen pointed to state cuts to education budgets as prompting her resignation.

"As the state budget reductions to education in Arizona continue to deepen, to what we feel is an unacceptable level, we found it necessary to consider another opportunity for our family," she wrote.

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Nearly 700 layoffs were announced Tuesday night by TUSD, Sunnyside and Amphi school districts.

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