Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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June 20, 2013

Popular teacher may lose position

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWFANE — A drop in prekindergarten funding could lead to the loss of a popular third-grade teacher and soccer coach in Newfane.

But nothing has been determined yet, said Superintendent Christine J. Tibbetts on Tuesday.

But if Linea Fetzer were to lose her teaching job, she could possibly remain head coach of the girls varsity soccer team, the superintendent said.

The talk of cutting the position is tied to the district’s prekindergarten enrollment. Tibbetts said Newfane found out this week registration was well below normal, with only 50 kids signed up for the fall.

Typically, the district sees a summer increase in prekindergarten registration of about 10 kids. That means Newfane is planning for 60 kids to attend in the fall, much lower than the annual average of 90 to 100 kids. And with that comes a $100,000 cut in universal prekindergarten funding from the state.

Newfane has its own universal prekindergarten classes, which are covered by the UPK grant funding, but also offers Head Start of Niagara County and a county program at the Early Childhood Center in Burt. It’s expected that of those 60 kids, 20 will go to Head Start and 10 will join the county program, meaning 30 kids will be in the Newfane program.

In the past there have been four half-day sections of UPK in Newfane with two teachers. The district can’t support that now, Tibbetts said, so two sections and a teacher would have to be cut. Fetzer has the least seniority of the elementary teachers.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Tibbetts said.

Tibbetts said an elementary teaching position would have to be added to the budget. But another section cannot be added to any grade level.

A group of parents and students spoke at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting in favor of keeping Fetzer’s position. Parent Vicki Taylor said Fetzer was an amazing educator.

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