Richmond County school board approves 2 layoffs, 4 demotions

As a result of the revenue shortfall in the school system's budget and the need to cut personnel costs, the Richmond County Board of Education approved two layoffs and four demotions within the system Monday.

 

The layoffs include a student services coordinator and a school resource officer. The demotions are transfers that resulted in shortened contracts for the employees or different positions that came with lower salaries.

Acting Superintendent James Whitson said that although the school system was able to save many jobs by transferring employees to new positions, there were still negative consequences.

"Just because I saved you a paycheck doesn't mean I didn't impact your life," Whitson said. "It doesn't mean I didn't impact your career goals. That is the reality, quite frankly, of not having enough revenue to cover the expenditures in our district."

In May, the board announced it had to cut $1.6 million in personnel costs to help alleviate the $17 million revenue shortfall in the 2012 budget. Administrators tried to avoid layoffs by cutting costs through attrition, retirements and the legal transfer of funding sources for salaries. But as the transfer process advanced, administrators found that not all the cutbacks could be made through those means.

Most of the remaining $17 million shortfall was made up through using more than $10 million of reserve funds and imposing furlough days. But a void in revenue required the district to eliminate six positions, resulting in the layoffs and demotions.

The school board called Monday's meeting to vote on the reductions, and the changes were approved by a 6-1 vote. Board member Jimmy Atkins voted against the motion, and Patsy Scott, Venus Cain and Eloise Curtis were absent.

"I do understand that there had to be a (reduction in force) in order to balance the budget," Atkins said. "When 90 percent of our budget is personnel, some positions have to be eliminated ... but some of the reductions in there I personally disagree with."

With the six employee reductions and other transfers, the district will save $1.2 million, according to a memo given to board members.

Because the process of trying to reduce expenditures continues, Whitson said, the district has to constantly evaluate its spending. If the situation does not improve, he said, there's no guarantee more reductions won't be made in eight months when the staff begins to prepare another budget.

"I can't foresee the future, but I don't have any indication that more money is going to be coming from the state or the federal government to relieve our situation," he said. "Our great hope is that no more money is going to be taken away. If we generate less money in either of those places, it's going to impact people."

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