Almost 20 percent of the staff at the Hill View Montessori Charter School will not be returning next fall, and parents are raising questions about the leadership of the school.
Hill View Executive Director Ruthann Goguen said five staff members have elected not to return for the 2012-13 school year and five other staff members have not been offered a contract for next year.
Some of the positions will be filled, but the school will be operating with five fewer teachers next year. That means five classrooms that now have two teachers each will instead have one teacher and an instructional assistant.
Goguen said that the school, which has just over 50 staff members, has had to deal with budget problems in her first year in charge of the school. Midway through the year, three employees had to be laid off.
"It's been a hard ride," said Goguen. "Myself and the board of trustees had a lengthy list of items to approve. We need to make sure that we focus on teaching and learning. Our school is at a crossroads, and we need to create a better culture."
The budget troubles are also forcing the school to cut back on the duties of the instructional assistants. The assistants will still work the same number of classroom hours, but workshops and assistance offered before and after regular school hours won't be required so the assistants will receive a lower salary.
Montessori schools typically rely on at least two people in each classroom. Kids often stay with the same teachers for multiple years and develop a strong relationship with them. Children are taught in mixed-age classrooms, with assignments based on their skill level.
At Community Partnership meeting last week, parents said they were upset at the way the school handled the news that some teachers would not be returning, saying they should have heard it first from the administration, not their children.