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Job cuts, including 75 teachers, were announced Friday afternoon for Davenport Community Schools employees.

In a news release, district spokesperson Dawn Saul did not say how many jobs would be eliminated, but some school district employees will receive "reduction-in-force" letters. Toby Paone, teachers union representative, said the majority of teachers affected by the reduction are first- and second-year teachers. 

The cuts, effective June 30, come after the district overspent its budget authority for the past three years. On Dec. 11, the Iowa School Budget Review Committee approved the district's plan to cut $13 million in two years.

The district's plan called for cutting 83 certified staff positions, including teachers, nurses, media specialists, counselors and coaches at all levels. The board approved a "one-time reduction of years of service eligibility requirement to 15 years" on Nov. 26, in a bid to encourage early retirements instead of layoffs, but fewer employees took the offer than the district had hoped. 

In January, 31 certified staff members, two administrators and 26 classified staff members took the deal.

Saul said Friday she did not know exact numbers but that various positions are being cut from different areas.

"This is a really difficult day for our district, particularly for those directly impacted and those having to make the decisions," she said. "It’s a very difficult step, but it’s a step we have to take to strengthen the district fiscally."

The cuts are also a reflection of Davenport schools' declining student population — over the past 10 years, Davenport schools have lost more than 2,000 students. "We don’t need the same staff level," Saul said.

The district has also experienced a significant loss in revenue because of the state funding formula, she said. District officials have complained for years that the formula penalizes some districts, including Davenport.

Paone said the number of teacher reductions is more than initially anticipated. "We were originally thinking 40-50," he said Friday. "The real goal is a $5.5 million cut."

The district and the union have worked together since November to ensure layoffs were done properly and according to the union contract, he said.

The union will provide unemployment counseling at meetings set for March 19 and 21 to walk through the next steps — "what happens after you get a pink slip," Paone said.

The reduction for the 2019-2020 school year is a result of budget cuts in the two- and five-year budget-reduction plans the school board unanimously approved Nov. 29.

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