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Jefferson County board of education paints rosier picture

February 06, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The bleak picture that the Jefferson County Board of Education painted last month about the possible elimination of 33 teaching and 12 service personnel positions was looking a little better at a special board meeting Monday night.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Schools Superintendent Susan Wall said in a recap of the night’s discussion.

Wall, administrators and board members began looking at the 2012-13 fiscal year’s budget in late November. At the time, they were facing a $5.3 million budget shortfall that was created over the last four years. They began looking at ways to balance the new appropriation.

The decision was made to prepare a list of teachers and service personnel who could lose their jobs. State law dictated that employees on such a list be officially notified by Feb. 1.

Last week, about 50 teachers, service personnel and parents held a candlelight protest vigil outside the central office where the board members were meeting.

The district is projected to lose $1.2 million in state said. Such funds are based on student enrollment, which this year was flat for the first time since 2002. Every year in the last decade, enrollment grew by around 200 students, Wall has said.

Income from the excess levy was down by more than $700,000, its first decline in more than 60 years, said Peter Dougherty, board president.

That’s due to dwindling property values resulting from the economic downturn.

Employees whose contracts might not be extended will be put on a recall list to be the first rehired if budget conditions improve.

One way that might occur is if some of the 80 teachers eligible to retire notify their intentions by Feb. 27. Those who do will receive a $1,000 bonus.

Some teachers have indicated they might take advantage of the offer, with more expected to do so, board members said Monday.

That would create more openings for those whose jobs are threatened.

“We were looking at the worst-case scenario in December,” Wall said. “This is a very fluid document.”

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