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Due to budget cuts and rising benefit costs, the Ogden School District announced Friday it plans to eliminate its media specialist/librarian positions at the end of the school year, affecting 20 employees who fill those full-time slots.
"No one has been fired," said Ogden's Superintendent Brad Smith. Instead, officials met with the employees Friday to alert them to the move and encourage them to consider applying for open teaching positions, he said.
The district has dozens of teaching positions it must fill for the coming school year, and the 20 employees all have teaching credentials, he said.
"Waiting longer to tell them would greatly prejudice their ability to apply for open positions both inside and outside the Ogden School District," Smith told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The plan is to retain two media specialists at the district level to supervise two part-time assistants in each school who do not receive medical or retirement benefits, saving $930,000, according to the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
School districts across Utah are deciding how to cope with potential increases in the cost of benefits under the Affordable Care Act. By January 2014, employers with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance to those working 30 or more hours weekly.
The decision does not become final until the Ogden School Board approves the final budget in June. However, Smith said he would not have made the announcement if he felt he did not have the board's support.
"The driving factor was that hiring and firing decisions are being made in every district right now," Smith said, adding that without the knowledge that their jobs were coming to an end, "these poor people would have been out the running."
In 2008, some state leaders were pushing for more teacher librarians, citing the need for students to be savvy Internet researchers.