SEQUIM — Having spent 21 years in the U.S. Army, Sgt. Mike Lippert wasn’t about to spend his retirement on a golf course.
Lippert, medically disabled from his time in the service, earned a university master’s degree and last year began teaching history at Sequim High School.
But Lippert’s teaching career may be short-lived. He was just notified that he will be losing his job in June.
“I love every minute of it,” Lippert said of his classroom stint. “And now, there’s probably nothing I can do on the Peninsula.”
The Sequim School District sent pink slips to 12 professional staff members last week after making $1.5 million in cuts to its 2004-05 operating budget earlier this month.
February levy failure
The School Board, faced with a shortfall of funds in the wake of a failed maintenance and operations levy which voters rejected in February, made sweeping cuts in extracurricular activities — including competitive sports, arts and music at the elementary level — and several facilities maintenance functions.
Stipends dedicated to supporting the programs cut were eliminated, and the 12 staffers were notified that their contracts will not be renewed for the 2004-05 school year.
The district is making a second attempt to pass a $5.16 million, two-year replacement levy in a special election ending May 18.
But under collective bargaining terms, contracts must be renewed or voided by May 15 every school year.
Should the levy pass, many of the programs could be restored and laid-off workers might be offered contracts, Schools Superintendent Garn Christensen said.
Because staffing cuts are made on a seniority basis, the program cuts don’t necessarily correspond with the employees teaching or running them.
That means some reshuffling of staff will need to be accomplished — a decision Christensen said won’t be made until the final results from May’s levy election are known and the board contemplates a budget for 2004-05.
In addition to Lippert, district employees receiving layoff notices include Marthe Fortman, school nurse; Leighanne Erickson, Sequim High School Spanish teacher; Laura Gould, Sequim Middle School science teacher; Elizabeth King, middle school language arts and history teacher; Karen O’Donnell, Sequim Community School/Olympic Peninsula Academy teacher.
Also, Isaac Rapelje, high school science teacher; Jake Reichner, high school literature teacher; Nancy Renner, Greywolf Elementary School counselor; Jennifer Sikes, middle school sixth-grade teacher; Patty Swingle, Greywolf librarian; and Chris Zeller, middle school seventh-grade language arts teacher.
Sequim Middle School counselor Gloria Ricketts was reduced from full-time to half-time.Five other 2004-05 positions that will be vacant due to retirements or resignations are not being filled, Christensen said.