Fort Kent teachers experience the RIF process, one teacher cut, one moving to another position
FORT KENT– At an emergency school board meeting held on May 8, the SAD 27 school board voted to let music teacher Linda Powell go due to declining music program enrollments.
SAD 27 Superintendent Tim Doak said poor enrollment figures such as two students signed up for chorus had precipitated the decision. Powell taught music in the district for four years, but was the most junior of the three music teachers SAD 27 employs.
“Everybody wants to have a good music program, but you’ve got to have kids in it,” Doak said.
Before the vote, Ward 5 representative Sofia Birden said, “I agree we have to do it. I don’t like how we have to do it.” Birden said she voted against the motion.
Doak said he discussed the potential Reduction In work Force (RIF) with the music teachers before the April school vacation.
“It’s not performance, it’s collective bargaining,” said Doak.
The district will retain two music teachers. Ed Boynton will teach half-time in the Fort Kent Community High School and half-time in the Valley Rivers Middle School. Another music teacher will serve the outlying schools, where the program includes classroom music, chorus, and fifth grade instrument.
Doak said RIFing usually affects the least senior members of a school faculty, although education levels and teacher evaluations can affect the decisions made as well. RIFing is a process that has been in place in teachers’ contracts for years, he said. It normally applies in a situation in which other jobs for the teacher are unavailable within the school district.
If the district has an opening for the teacher elsewhere, the superintendent has the authority to transfer the teacher into the available open spot, said Doak.
This will be the case for Robbie Nadeau, a CHS social studies teacher who Doak will transfer to fill a concurrent eighth grade opening at Valley Rivers Middle School. The situation is a win-win for the teacher and the district, said Doak. Nadeau had applied for the open position, and with the transfer, the district avoids having to RIF one of the four social studies teachers in the high school.
“[Nadeau is] really happy,” reported Doak.
Doak praised Nadeau, who was RIF’d in Eagle Lake and twice in Fort Kent previously, and said, “He’s going to really help our middle school.”