Windsor School District votes to cut 40 teachers

Windsor School District voted to cut more than 40 full-time teaching positions Tuesday night after an emotional public outpouring calling for the five-member board to save threatened programs including music.

Board members expressed hope that some of the positions can be reinstated in the coming weeks, but said their hands were tied by a new set of strict spending rules put in place in March after the district was declared in negative financial status because of chronic deficit spending of more than $2 million a year.

Outside of Windsor, of the slightly more than 23 positions throughout Sonoma County threatened to be cut back in March, nearly 17 were officially cut.

Michelle Plumbtree, the fiscal adviser given veto power over all district spending, said officials want to support the educational programs of students "but that doesn't mean we can give them everything they are used to having or that we want them to have. You can't afford to do all of it the way you want."

But scores of parents and students said that with Tuesday night's vote, the district is essentially dismantling its entire music program, telling both of Windsor High School's primary music instructors that their jobs are gone.

The district can hire back teachers given official notices today, but parents said some teachers will look elsewhere in the meantime.

"We have already had teachers picked up," Superintendent Tammy Gabel said. "Basically our loss is another district's gain."

Gabel vowed that music will be in place next year, but that it will look different.

"There will be music. We know there will be music. The question is, 'What does it look like?'<TH>" she said.

The school board also voted on Tuesday to increase class sizes to 24 students in kindergarten through third grades, 32students in grades four through eight and push student loads for most high school teachers to 180students. The class size increases account for 17 positions cut.

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