Cuts remain, but attrition saves some Fayette teachers’ jobs

Despite large cuts in the number of teachers’ positions in the Fayette County School System for the coming school year, attrition has become the friend of those remaining.

A lot of people either decided not to seek another year of employment with the local schools or chose retirement. That means fewer remaining teachers face getting handed pink slips.

What began as the elimination of 144 job positions of certified staff such as teachers and counselors has been reduced to a total of 18 current certified staff without positions for next year.

The Fayette County Board of Education recently agreed with the recommendation of interim Superintendent Dan Colwell that 309 positions be eliminated as part of a $15 million budget cut needed to balance the 2013-2014 budget that begins in July. Of the 309 positions, 144 were held by certified staff.

The first task was to find positions for certified staff holding positions such as teachers and counselors because those employees had to be notified by mid-May if their contracts were not being renewed.

Though the numbers are still changing, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Personnel Management Tom Gray on Monday said that number is down to nine teachers and nine counselors without an assignment out of the original 144 positions to be eliminated.

Both Gray and interim Superintendent Dan Colwell said the situation is still fluid with the coming end of the school year. They said all attempts are being made to place as many employees as possible in appropriate positions so that the fewest number of employees will actually lose their jobs.

Colwell emphasized that every employee needing a position cannot necessarily plug into an identical position since those positions are not always available. Colwell cited the example of a physics teacher whose position must be filled by another physics teacher.

Gray said work will soon begin on finding as many positions possible for classified staff such as parapros.

A portion of the 145 classified positions to be eliminated included approximately 60 first grade parapros whose salaries are funded by local tax dollars. To accomplish the task, all kindergarten and first grade parapros were told they would be technically dismissed so that school principals could re-hire the parapros for kindergarten classes they deemed to be the best fit for the school, Colwell said.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to re-hire all of them back because we’re eliminating the entire program. These are valuable people who have made contributions over the years, but we can’t afford it anymore,” Colwell said.

The school board next month will adopt a budget that will trim approximately $15 million off the current expense budget while approving additional reductions needed to begin to building a financial reserve.

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