Fired and hired in five minutes at Mingus

COTTONWOOD - The state Legislature, in a sudden and unexpected cut to education funding, decided it will no longer pay for freshmen in career and technology courses. That had a huge impact financially at Mingus Union High School. It put three teachers' jobs immediately on the chopping block.

During the school board's meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Tim Foist explained that a couple of years ago MUHS and the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education entered into a memorandum of understanding for a "school within a school." Under that plan, VACTE would use its funding to pay the salaries of three Mingus teachers in the CTE department.

Unfortunately, as Foist explained to the board, VACTE no longer has the capacity to count freshmen as a funding source. That will cost MUHS almost $100,000, according to Foist.

The result is that Mingus and VACTE must back away from the agreement under the memorandum of understanding. To officially do that, it was necessary for the board to use a reduction in force to release three teachers under the MOU.

Foist told the board that it must RIF the teachers, but that the administration is now looking at how it can bring those teachers back. He said he believed the district could bring back one fulltime and the other two half time.

But Board President James Ledbetter made a surprise move - in two quick steps. First, he entered a motion to RIF the three teachers for lack of funding.

During discussion of that motion, Ledbetter explained that he would immediately follow that motion with a second one. He also talked about being confident that funding sources were coming available through efforts of board and administration members at Mingus and at least one other school district.

Although he could not go into detail, it seemed apparent that he was talking about intergovernmental agreements for cost sharing between two or more districts.

Ledbetter said it was something of a gamble. He convinced all board members except Mike Mulcaire to vote for the motion to RIF the three teachers.

Ledbetter then entered a new motion: to re-hire all three of the just-fired teachers. He added the condition that the teachers are certified to teach the available courses. The motion passed with a 3-to-2-split vote. Ledbetter, Anita Glazar and Brenda Zenan voted ye; John Tavasci Jr. and Mulcaire voted no.

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