The Jackson County School System is bracing for tough economic times with a number of staff changes — including furloughs, layoffs and a reduction in one employee benefit.
During its annual retreat Thursday and Friday, the board of education got a hard look at the school system’s finances.
And while much of the district’s state-provided finances remains uncertain, the school system is clearly facing a drop in revenue for the 2009-2010 fiscal year budget.
The Jackson County School System’s tentative budget is $88 million — which is a 2.95 percent drop from the current budget of $90 million.
More than 86 percent of the district’s budget is tied to employee salaries and benefits — a common percentage of personnel costs for most school systems in Georgia.
“No matter how much you cut, there’s only so much you can cut before you get to personnel,” said Brian Smith, an attorney for the law firm Harben, Hartley and Hawkins, which represents the school system.
The Jackson County School System plans to impose a five-day furlough for all 12-month contract employees — which includes all superintendents, directors, coordinators, head high school football coaches, principals, assistant principals, and some fine arts directors.
That move is expected to save the school system $110,900 in salaries and benefits. The affected employees will spread their furloughed days throughout the 2009-2010 school year.
The district will also lay off an estimated nine employees as part of its Reduction in Force (RIF) plan. Those employees were notified about the layoff move Monday and Tuesday, after the BOE met in a closed-door meeting for 35 minutes Friday to discuss personnel issues. Their names were due to be announced this (Wednesday) morning.
Smith outlined the legal requirements for putting a school system’s RIF in action, including hearings for certain employees who request the move.
In deciding whom to lay off, the school system will look at the job performance and effectiveness of each teacher, Smith said. District officials will then consider seniority and tenure status.
An estimated 30 certified and classified positions will also be lost next school year through attrition — when employees resign or retire from the district.
That figure also includes 18 special education paraprofessionals, who will lose their positions due to a decrease in the number of students enrolled in special education classes.