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Eagle Point schools lay off a dozen

About 12 employees in the Eagle Point School District will be laid off at the end of the school year to help offset the district's, estimated $3.5 million budget shortfall next year, district officials said Wednesday.

School principals on Wednesday notified six teachers and six support staff members, including teacher's aides, that they would be laid off, said Michael Remick, Eagle Point schools human resources director.

"Anytime you affect people's careers and lives it's hard for everybody," said Remick, his voice cracking. "Your heart and sensitivity goes out to them because they haven't done anything wrong. They're doing great things for kids, but when you have to cut this much out of the budget, there's no way around it."

In all, the district has eliminated 15 positions to save $915,000. Three of those positions were through attrition, Remick said.

That includes Doug McKenzie, Eagle Point schools special education director, who has decided to retire. His position will not be filled, and his duties will be divided among other administrators.

Remick said if other employees retire or resign before the year is out, some of the laid-off employees could be reinstated to jobs in the district.

He wouldn't detail the other positions that had been eliminated. He said some of the people laid off can be identified by their positions, and he wanted to respect their privacy.

"Between the time when the layoffs were announced at the board meeting and today, (union) members have gone over the reduction in force to make sure everything met contract language," said Brian Hall, an employee union spokesperson and an teacher at White Mountain Middle School in White City.

Layoffs usually go according to seniority. Teacher layoffs are more complex and are based on both seniority and the need for teachers in the subject areas in which the teacher has credentials.

Hall said the layoffs could affect class sizes at some schools and programs.

"Of course, there is an effect on morale," Hall said. "The people we work with are more than just coworkers; they're friends. We are all working toward a common pause, so seeing people laid off is tough."

The district of about 4,200 pupils has to carve out a total of about $3.5 million from its $30 million budget. About $2 million of that was already accomplished through a money transfer from the district's contingency fund, essentially a savings account for unforeseen expenses and emergencies, Scott Whitman, Eagle Point schools business manager.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.