Muscogee County School District won't lay off teachers after all

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 15, 2013 

From 40 to 20 to nine to none.

In the past two months, that's how the estimated number of teacher layoffs have decreased in the Muscogee County School District.

MCSD officials announced in a news release Monday night after the school board's work session that no Reduction in Force (RIF) for teachers is needed for fiscal year 2014.

Overall, the district's state funding of $144,167,143 is a reduction of $21,238,578, bringing the decrease over 12 years to $141 million -- equal to about a full year of state funding for the school district.

As a result, MCSD sought to eliminate more than 200 overall staff positions this year out of 5,737 employees. Officials outsourced some custodial services, closed Edgewood Elementary and Marshall Middle schools and the Academic Success Center and increased class sizes by one or two students across the district. But an increase in the attrition rate helped avoid layoffs. In 2012, there were 85 teacher retirements and resignations from April to June. In 2013, there were 132 such exits in the same time frame.

“Retirements, resignations and restructuring of some positions helped the district avoid a RIF,” Kathy Tessin, the district's human resources chief said in the news release. “We were also able to use positions filled last year with end-of-year hires, which are not automatically issued or guaranteed annually.”

The district did, however, lay off 77 custodians. The contractors who were awarded the custodial services bid have reported at least 54 former MCSD custodians have been hired, and others are being considered for hire in the school nutrition department and the transportation department, the release said.

“I commend the administrators and staff for the team effort and diligence it took to make decisions that continues to best support all of our children and their education,” John Phillips, the district's interim superintendent, said in the release. “To lay off employees is never a first option or an easy task. We must continue to be proactive, especially when state funds are drastically reduced. We are forced to make some critical decisions that may not always be popular but are always in the best interest of our children, our employees and overall supports the effective operations of the school district.”

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