3 Sycamore teachers rehired after districtwide layoffs

Kathy Countryman

SYCAMORE – Three Sycamore teachers who received layoff notices in March were brought back onto the Sycamore School District 427 staff because of increases in student enrollment, Superintendent Kathy Countryman said.

The school board approved two of the rehires at its meeting Monday, including Dawn Berry, who will teach fourth grade at North Grove Elementary, and Jodi Gudewicz, who will teach seventh-grade language arts at Sycamore Middle School.

Lisa Hoffhines, who will teach first grade at North Grove Elementary, also has been approved for rehire, Countryman said.

Countryman said as more students registered for school during the summer, the district found it had a need for more teachers, and fortunately was able to bring back a few who had been laid off.

"Ensuring we are mindful of both [enrollment and budget], we are excited to be able to offer opportunities back to our staff," she said.

In February, the school board voted to eliminate about 40 positions throughout the district in preparation of the final year of a three-year budget reduction plan.

As a result, eight full-time teachers and two part-time teachers were laid off, and two full-time teachers were reduced to part time. About 20 full- and part-time support staff were laid off as well, while other positions were reduced through attrition.

The selection of laid-off teachers for rehire is based on what they can teach with their specific licensures as well as seniority, Countryman said.

She said the district's budget has a contingency, in case additional staff members are needed based on factors such as increased enrollment.

The district carried out the three-year plan to reach a balanced budget by the end of the 2017-18 school year and reduce deficit spending, which will require a $2.3 million reduction next year.

For the 2016-17 school year, the district cut $2.8 million in spending after a $1.1 million reduction in the 2015-16 school year.

School will be back in session for Sycamore students Aug. 16.