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Schools to cut 36 jobs
24 employees to be displaced
Sunday, June 24, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Martinsville schools will eliminate 36 positions in the new fiscal year due to budget cuts, but only 24 employees actually may lose their jobs.
Those two dozen include seven teachers, 12 “paraprofessionals” — teacher’s aides — and five “classified” employees, such as secretaries, bus drivers and custodians, school officials determined late Friday.
Seventy-six jobs were eliminated during the past two years due to losses of funds. As of April, the school system had 400 employees.
Martinsville High School and Martinsville Middle School each will lose three teachers, and one of the elementary schools will lose a teacher in fiscal 2013, which will start July 1.
Pam Heath, superintendent of the city schools, would not elaborate on the job cuts out of concern for embarrassing people who will lose their positions due to no fault of their own. She said if specific jobs were mentioned without anyone’s names, it might be easy to figure out who is being let go because Martinsville is a small school system.
“It’s really bad enough to lose your job,” Heath said. Identifying people “is like rubbing salt in the wound.”
Also, while teachers have been notified that their jobs are being cut, not all of the other affected employees have been told yet, she said.
Earlier this year, the schools estimated that 35 jobs would be eliminated.
The schools were forced to cut their budget by more than $1.7 million for fiscal 2013 due to a combination of lost funds and higher expenses. Because about 80 percent of the budget is related to personnel costs, job cuts were necessary, officials have said.
Classified positions bore the brunt of previous job cuts, but officials determined this year that teaching jobs would have to be cut more than in the past.
The 2011-12 school year ended two weeks ago. In past years, job cuts had been determined before now, but the process was delayed this year because of delays in the state and local budgeting processes, according to Heath.
The process of determining the job cuts was complicated, she said, because many factors went into determining how many positions would be cut this year and how many people actually would lose their jobs.
One of the factors was employees who either quit or retired on their own.
“The best practice in human resources if someone resigns or retires is to evaluate the resources that were being used for that position to determine if you need to refill the position, redistribute the responsibilities ... or eliminate the position entirely and use the money somewhere else,” Heath noted.
Other factors included:
• Salaries of specific employees. For instance, if an employee at the top of the pay scale retires, his salary could be used to fund more than one person at lower points on the pay scale, Heath said.
• Whether people in positions that were cut could be transferred into jobs that became vacant yet were determined to be too important to eliminate, based on qualifications and — in the case of teachers — certifications and endorsements in specific areas of teaching.
• Having recently realized that some special education teaching and aide positions had to be added due to federal mandates and numbers of pupils needing those services. Heath indicated that some of those students only recently enrolled in the city schools.
Heath said some employees whose jobs were locally funded and eliminated, and who are certified to teach special education in addition to what they had been teaching, will be shifted into federally funded special education jobs.
She added that some of the paraprofessionals targeted for layoffs may end up being needed for the extra special education classes.
Despite the job cuts and layoffs, there will be a few vacant positions that will have to be filled by new hires due to nobody who is being laid off having the prerequisites for them, Heath said.
No school system administrators are losing their jobs, but Heath said some will be given additional duties “that might have been carried out by a teacher or someone else” in the past because there will be fewer employees now.
“We have very loyal employees (administrators and others) who continue to give their all, taking on more” responsibilities without pay increases “because they’re committed to the kids,” she said.
Fewer teachers will mean that some class sizes will increase, Heath said.
Overall, though, she said the effects of the job losses are “hard to predict.”
“The cuts this year are really hitting the bone,” Heath said. “They’re very painful.”
“But we are determined to do the best we can for our students, no matter the circumstances,” she said.