Amid declining enrollment and budget concerns, the Whitefish School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to cut its district’s staff.
The following teachers will not have their contracts renewed: Whitefish Middle School special education teacher Jill Myhre; Muldown enrichment and art teacher Elizabeth Hanson; and Whitefish High School physical education teacher and boys basketball coach Eric Stang.
In addition, two classified staff members – Whitefish High School computer aide Brigid Smith and Whitefish Middle School secretary Jill Joy – were cut.
School officials have said they expect the elementary school budget to come up $180,000 short next year, with an additional $280,000 deficit in the high school district.
The funding shortfall is, in part, due to declining enrollment. According to statistics from the Flathead County Superintendent’s report, Whitefish High School has 551 students – 93 fewer students than last year, or a 14 percent drop, and 19 percent fewer students over the last decade.
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, Superintendent Jerry House announced that Whitefish High School English teacher Matt Holloway’s position would not be cut, drawing applause and cheers from a number of students and parents who were there to support the popular teacher.
Holloway was originally slated to lose his job along with the other three non-tenured teachers. Instead, House said longtime English teacher Mark Duff recently announced he would retire at the end of this year, leaving a vacancy in the department.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, parents and students encouraged the district to avoid reducing the middle school’s music program, if it moved to a new, daily class schedule.
“They’re building a strong program, and we don’t need to cut the legs out from under that,” Julie Reimer, Whitefish public schools Band Boosters president, said.
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