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Board OKs all RIF reccomendations

By Staff | Feb 3, 2012

CHARLES TOWN – In a final 3-2 votes, Jefferson County Board of Education members voted to approve all 65 RIF recommendations at a special personnel board meeting Monday night.

Board members Scott Sudduth and Alan Sturm again voted against approval of Superintendent Susan Wall’s RIF recommendations, while board President Pete Dougherty and members Gary Kable and Mariland Lee voted to approve the recommendations.

“Unfortunately, the current situation that we’re in, the board can only do a reaction mode, and that was an unfortunate factor that the information that came to us was so late in coming that we were not able to be more proactive and had to be reactive,” Dougherty said.

School employees and community members crowded the board meeting and the outside hallway to hear the board members’ final decision on the school personnel recommended for termination. The recommendation approvals will go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year.

Ten employees requested a hearing for Monday’s meeting to appeal their recommendation letters, but the board members also voted on the recommended employees who did not request a hearing. The 65 approved RIF recommendations include employees from previous RIF hearings.

Jill Jones, a staff representative with the American Federation of Teachers, represented many of the school employees at previous employee hearings and at Monday’s board meeting. Although the board voted to approve all of the RIF recommendations, she said it was important that the employees presented their cases and that the community supported employees at the various meetings.

“What’s the alternative, that you do nothing? If we don’t do something this year, who’s to say next year there won’t be more cuts,” Jones said.

The reduction of school employees and additional personnel eliminations is estimated to relieve $1,624,250 from an overall projected $5,421,000 shortfall from the previous year’s budget.

The approved recommendations of additional personnel eliminations include the number of days for contracted employees reduced from 261 to 257 days; elimination of middle school critical skills grants stipends; and the termination of middle school team leader stipends.

“The school system has said that these decisions were based on programmatic issues, enrollment issues and financial issues. I know that the central office has worked very hard to address these problems, but I don’t think that they’ve made the case,” Sudduth said.

The decrease in funds stemmed from many factors, including an estimated $2 million less in carryover from the 2012 fiscal year budget to the 2013 budget; no increase of student enrollment, resulting in $500,000 less than planned; $1.5 million less in federal stimulus money; and around a $721,000 decrease in the excess levy.