Fewer layoffs as school board approves budget - WRBL

Fewer layoffs as school board approves budget

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - In a 5 to 1 vote, the Muscogee County School board approved the fiscal year 2015 budget. It includes a far fewer number of layoffs than the 69 originally reported. The newest number stands at 42.

"This time of year, every year, is very difficult for the board. We make very tough decisions because you're talking about someone's livelihood," said District 1 representative Patricia Hugley Green.

With 5 board members voting yes, the fiscal year 2015 budget was approved at Monday night's school board meeting. The lone dissenter, John Wells, asked the board to dip into the reserve fund to save the teachers' jobs, but some board members disagreed, saying it was time to stop making annual fixes.

"What I don't recommend is making band aid fixes. These annual one time fixes that takes us only to the next year, and we have to make that same decision over and over again and yet it compounds the problem," said Green.

The layoffs include 42 school based personnel like teachers and guidance counselors. Superintendent David Lewis says 19 additional school based
personnel were laid off due to performance issues. There were also 44 district level positions that were cut, but school officials say there were no personnel in those positions.

District spokeswoman Valerie Fuller said in an email, "The numbers may continue to change as usual with continuous notices of retirements, resignations, and eligible qualified/certified applicants for needed vacancies." 

The budget process included several philosophical changes this year like zero based budgeting, which starts each department's budget from zero and requires a justification for each line item. They will also require fully certified and qualified teachers in front of students.

For the school based personnel who were laid off but still in good standing with the district, Lewis says the will have top priority to interview for any positions that open up.

"It's our goal to try and reemploy and rehire the people who may have been laid off. Again, what i said about if people get certified in positions but we also have natural attrition that's continuing to take place," said Lewis.

There were also several principals who were approved by the board Monday night. Craig Fitts will serve as principal of Double Churches Middle School. Carla Henry will be principal of J.D. Davis Elementary. Tujuana Wiggins will serve as Fox Elementary's Principal. There were also 5 lateral transfers to principal positions across the district.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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