Evergreen school employees receive non-renewal notices

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter



Nearly 2,000 Evergreen Public Schools employees will receive non-renewal notices for the 2011-12 school year.

All of the district’s certificated employees — which include principals, the superintendent and other administrative staff as well as teachers, specialists and counselors — will receive a notice today or Thursday regarding their contract for the next school year, said Jerry Piland of the district’s human resources department.

District officials, following the advice of legal counsel, are issuing the notices due to the uncertainty in state funding, Piland said. The worst-case scenario could mean cuts as deep as $26 million for the district, he said.

Until the legislature passes a budget, the district is left in the dark about how much funding it will receive, Piland said. However, state law requires districts notify certificated employees about the status of their contracts for the next school year by May 15.

As a result, the district is issuing 1,700 non-renewal notices because the current terms of the employees’ continuing contracts may change depending on state funding. Those changes could include state-mandated salary reductions or fewer class days. The district will reissue those contracts once the state funding picture becomes clearer, Piland said.

The district is also issuing 180 non-renewal notices to employees whose positions have been eliminated.

The reduction in force is assuming the worst-case scenario for state funding. If the state funding cuts aren’t as deep, some of those people will be issued new contracts, said Carol Fenstermacher, spokeswoman for the district.

Those positions include some classroom teachers, school librarians, counselors, educational staff assistants and student assistant specialists across all grade levels, Piland said.

If the district did not issue the notices by May 15, the certificated staff with continuing contracts would be guaranteed a position in the 2011-12 school year.

“Our basic problem is until the legislature finalizes the budget and we know what our budget is we have to cover our bases and make sure we don’t get into a situation where we have too many people on contract,” Piland said.

The district issued the 1,700 notices to employees whose contracts may change to prevent legal troubles should state-mandates mean altering union contracts, Piland said.

“It’s nothing anybody wants to do,” Fenstermacher said. “We’re just waiting for the state.”