Staff layoff list shrinking in Jefferson County schools

April 10, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Labor conditions for teachers in Jefferson County Schools have improved considerably, the district superintendent said Tuesday.

In January, the Jefferson County Board of Education notified 66 employees that they were being placed on a Reduction In Force list to cover part of a $5 million budget shortfall.

The news sent clouds of worry among employees whose names were on the list. It also drew the support of fellow workers whose jobs were not in peril, concerned parents and students.

About 50 of them lined up in a candlelight vigil of support on the night of a February school board meeting.


Twelve school service personnel were included in the 66 employees whose jobs were in jeopardy. No administration jobs were on the list.

Conditions have improved considerably in recent weeks, Schools Superintendent Susan K. Wall said Tuesday. The number of employees whose jobs are threatened has dropped to around 10 and prospects for them look good.

“The good news is that we’ve addressed 57 positions that will be filled,” Wall said.

So far 23 employees on the preferred recall list will be  rehired or transferred. Another 34 vacancies also will be filled, according to Wall.

Positions opened up when 39 employees opted to take a one-time, $1,000 early-retirement incentive, Wall said. More employees are expected to retire or leave before the new school year starts in the fall, she said.

She said all positions are being refilled based on seniority.

The school board knew, through its long-range fiscal planning, that things were coming to a head in December.

“It was a perfect storm,” Wall said.

Projected property tax revenues from the Jefferson County Assessor’s Office affect the amount taken in by the Excess Levy. Federal stimulus funds were drying up and state funding, which is based on student enrollment, was down by $1.2 million this year.

The student population grew at a rate of 10 percent or around 200 students a year over the last decade. Enrollment for the current year was flat.

A new state law this year required school boards to notify employees on a RIF lists by Feb. 1 instead of the previous deadline of April 1. Usually by that time, administrators have a better handle on budget requirements and on the number of employees planning to retire or otherwise leave the system, Wall said.

“We just came to the point where we had to address personnel,” she said.

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