During a May 8th workshop, Superintendent Mark Henson and Associate Superintendent Cynthia Panter introduced a plan to reduce the district work force by eliminating six teaching positions through out the system for next school year.
Panter explained that one physical education instructor position in the high school will be eliminated as well as five elementary teacher positions.
“We have pored over the numbers at the elementary level,”
“because the goal is always to fund your teachers.”
By making class sizes slightly larger, though, Panter said the district was able to eliminate these five positions, which are what she called “minimum funded” positions. However, Panter clarified that the increase in class size will still keep within the maximum class requirement guidelines. Here, she noted, the decision was based on the student (enrollment) numbers.
The move, though, is the effect of an infirm economy. Henson prefaced the presentation by describing the district’s strained financial situation. He explained that the district was told that FY12 would be the worst year and if the district could financially survive the year, FY13 would be better. However,
“Starting in the fall,”
“we started to see some things that indicated we would not see a turn-around in our budget situation.”
One of these indications was no additional QBE (Quality Basic Education) funding from the state. Fannin county is underfunded for QBE $2.1 million for the year, Henson said, and $8.1 million since the program began. He noted that no additional cuts were made to QBE, however, no funds were restored either.
Another indication was health-care cost, forced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“By the summer of 2014,”
“our healthcare cost for our non-contractual employees will increase by $1.3 million.”
He added that federal funding could take anywhere from a 10 to 15 percent cut. More locally, he also said that, due to the recession, a reduction in the property digest is expected from anywhere to 10 to 15 percent.
As far as the school district is concerned, Henson stressed that it can’t continue to spend the money it’s spending and stay within the budget and be good stewards of taxpayer money. He called eliminating the positions, which may include attrition,
“not something we choose to do, but in order to provide the best education for all students, we have to look (at).”
Board Chairman Sandra Mercier said she reluctantly would ask for a vote from the board to approve the Reduction in Force Plan. Lamenting the decision, the board accepted the recommendation.