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County BOE cuts 79 jobs

A reduction in state funding over the past two years came crashing down on the Morgan County School system Thursday night when school board members voted unanimously to eliminate the jobs of 79 teachers, aides and support personnel next school year on the recommendation of Superintendent Bill Hopkins.

Those affected received non-hire notifications earlier in the week.

Hopkins said the move was necessary to open up some slots for tenured personnel whose jobs were eliminated with the decision to close Ryan School and to meet financial constraints brought on by the proration of state funding.

“I’m sure we’ll bring back some of these people, maybe as many as one-third,” Hopkins said. “We have a better picture of what the final number will be after our next meeting on June 2.

“This is something we had to do,” he added, “and we’re asking everybody to be patient with us.”

School boards are required to make decisions on personnel contract renewals before the end of the school year. Otherwise, they automatically renew.

Hopkins said the job cuts in combination with the closing of Ryan School would reduce operational costs by about $2.3 million in 2011- 2012.

“This is a start in helping us get back to the $3.9 million we need in reserve,” he said. “We’ll have a plan to meet our reserve requirement at the next meeting.”

State law requires school systems to have enough money in reserve to meet at least one month of operational costs. Two months ago, chief school financial officer John Godwin projected a reserve balance of $1 million at the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Hopkins said he will recommend additional cost cuts to take effect next school year but pointed out that they will not be enough to eliminate the school’s system’s deficit.

“We’re on the road to recovery but we won’t be able to get where we want to be in one school year,” he said. “We never want to stop short of providing a good education for our children.”

“We’re going through tough times,” said Board Chairman Tom Earwood. “But we’re resilient and tough and we’ll go forward.”