Part 2 Pocahontas School Superintendent’s Report –Reductions in Force (RIF) Plans
In part 1 of Pocahontas County School Superintendent Terrence Beam’s monthly report, he announced the emergency plan that would be implemented in the event that Marlinton Elementary School were to be forced to close. In this part of his report, Mr. Beam announces and explains reductions in force or RIFs, planned for school employees.
“Another topic I wish to just briefly touch upon is –as Personnel Director, I am also responsible for RIFs and transfers” said Beam. “What that means is that when we have to cut back on personnel, because we simply can’t afford all these positions, this is the time of the year where we make decisions on where those cuts are made. When school started this year, we were ten over on service personnel. The State gives us funds every year through the State Aid Formula, money for our service personnel and our teachers, but they don’t give us enough for all of them. So anything above and beyond what they provide, the County has to pay for. Well, as we’ve been saying now for a couple of years, the county simply doesn’t have extra money to handle anything, much less extra salaries. Like I said, we were ten over on service (personnel), and we were one and a half over on professional (personnel). Well, we know we have to add another Kindergarten class at Green Bank next fall, so they’ll have two Kindergarten classes. So that would put us at two and a half over on professional and ten over on service.
On the professional side, I am making the recommendation to cut two and a half positions. We do have a couple of teachers in our county that prefer half time positions to full time positions, so they’ve agreed to reduce their time from full time to half time. And then we’ve had several positions that we simply had to cut because we can’t afford those positions. That would get us even on professionals and we wouldn’t have any money coming out of our general budget to pay for those extra positions.
With Service, through retirements – we had a bus driver retire, so we eliminated that run at the end of this year. We had another bus driver who took a different job in the school system. We’ve eliminated that run and eliminated that position. We had an Aid at Marlinton Elementary School that accepted employment at Green Bank for next year, so we eliminated that position at Marlinton Elementary School. We had a half-time Custodian position that was shared between Green Bank and the High School and we eliminated that position. So that was four positions that we were able to cut without having to lay anyone off. We just simply absorbed those positions when they became vacant –did not re fill them. The other three cuts that we had to make are people in positions right now, they’re Aids, We have an Aid at the high school, (and) we have two Aids at the elementary school in Marlinton that we’re cutting back on. Those people will be laid-off at the end of the year. The thing about Aid positions is, we never know when we’re going to need another Aid, depending on when we get students in with severe disabilities that need a lot of individual attention, and then we have to put people back on. But right now we feel we are able to meet the needs of all of our students with the Aids we plan on retaining.
At the end of the year, if all goes as planned, we will be even on professional, ought to be three over on service instead of ten over, and that really helps our County budget in not having to provide funding for those positions. But we want to try and keep as many people in jobs as we possibly can, but it’s just the nature of the beast right now that we are having to make these cuts.”
Mr. Beam also wanted to talk about some pending State legislation.
“The Legislature is working on a bill that would basically eliminate personnel season and would allow counties to make RIFs and transfers at any time during the year, based on their financial needs” Beam said. “And that’s a very drastic thing for the Legislature to consider, and I know they are going to get a lot of kick back on that from the school systems. But, you know, we’re living in different times and each year it seems like our tax base drops and our expenses increase – and it’s not just Pocahontas County, believe me it’s not. All the school systems are struggling to meet their budgets, and so the Legislature is looking for ways to give the counties more flexibility on how they spend the money that they do get –which I think is a good thing.”