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School Board will cut from central office

May 18, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Saturday she plans to eliminate and consolidate positions, terminate some employees and drop the professional development department from the Board of Education's central office on Commonwealth Avenue.

Morgan said she's targeting the central office in an effort to make up a shortfall of more than $4 million for the next fiscal year.

She will ask the School Board at a meeting Tuesday to approve the moves.

She expects many of the employees whose jobs will be eliminated to fill positions of educators who retire. Those who the school system can't find jobs for will be terminated, she said.

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"I don't want to terminate people unless we don't really have another job for them," Morgan said.

Morgan would not say how many employees would be affected by the possible moves because the School Board has not yet approved them.

"I think what we're doing is what the taxpayers would expect us to do," Morgan said.

Morgan said the plan to trim the central office was a hard one to come up with, because "I feel all our personnel is needed."

She said the elimination of positions will mean some employees will have to take on double duties.

"I'm concerned, because you can only stretch your staff so far," Morgan said.

Morgan said she decided the central office will receive the brunt of the cuts in order to keep classroom instruction from being harmed.

The School Board approved its $144.5 million budget for fiscal year 2004 last week. The board, which is largely funded by the Washington County Commissioners, will receive $3.8 million less than it requested from the county.

In addition to receiving less money from the county than it had asked for, the School Board lost about $1 million in state money.

The School Board had asked for $78.4 million from the county for the next fiscal year. The County Commissioners plan to give the board $74.6 million, according to the county budget.

The contribution from the county is $2.9 million, or 4 percent, more than the current fiscal year's contribution of $71.7 million.

School Board Vice President Paul Bailey said Saturday he had not yet been informed of the proposed staff changes at the central office.

"If I knew anything, I would tell you," Bailey said.

County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said he has had some concerns with staffing at the School Board's central office.

"I guess my concern has always been that we have the necessary supervision or administrators to help the teachers do their jobs better," Wivell said. "I have not always had that impression."

He also said the School Board and county should work together to consolidate departments that don't directly affect classroom instruction, such as payroll, human resources and transportation.

"I continue to believe there are a lot of things we can do together," Wivell said.

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