Reduction in force may cut 19 Fort Benning teachers by summer

benw@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 20, 2014 

Cars leave the Fort Benning main gate onto Fort Benning Drive on Oct. 1, 2013.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

Fort Benning schools may lose 19 teaching positions under a possible reduction in force this summer, a Department of Defense Education Activity official said.

The reductions for post educators come less than a week after officials announced voluntary early retirement authority or voluntary separation incentive pay for 900 civilian employees in the Training and Doctrine Command to avoid possible layoffs later this year.

If an employee is going to receive a notice of possible job loss, the information will go out no later than April 28, said Cindy Gibson, a public affairs spokeswoman for DoDEA in Peachtree City, Ga.

“We will ultimately have a number,” Gibson said. “We just don’t have it yet, but it remains very fluid at this point because we have all these other options, too. People will be retiring and other people may just resign cause they feel they have another job opportunity.”

While the exact number of positions to be eliminated is unknown, Gibson said results of the reduction in force, or RIF, will be effective by June 28.

Employees who may be affected by the reduction received general notices last week. At Fort Benning, the notices are possible because of an adjustment in staffing allocations.

“In some cases it’s due to declining enrollment, but that’s not the case at Fort Benning,” Gibson said. “It is an adjustment in staffing allocations.”

The school year started with a 2,914 students at Fort Benning and a total of 600 employees, including certified and non-certified. The post has six elementary schools and one middle school.

To brief employees on voluntary early retirement authority and voluntary separation incentive pay, a human resources division chief Bryan Weekley was on post Tuesday.

“We are certainly going to be working with them throughout the process and do all that we can to make all those resources available to them if they are given a specific notice,” Gibson said. Christy Cabezas, superintendent of the Georgia-Alabama District for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, is hopeful that excess teachers will be placed in positions at schools with an increase in students. “I really, truly believe that we are going to end up being able to place the majority if not all of our excess teachers that may get a general RIF notice,” she said Thursday.

Cabezas, who also manages education at Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., said some teachers will be taking early retirement and voluntary separation. Some teachers also are spouses of military personnel who have permanent change of duty stations in the summer.

Renovation of housing areas has an impact on schools at Fort Benning. When an area is closed, Cabezas said enrollment decreases in the school that serves the area.

“When we have decreased enrollment, we have to do a RIF,” said Cabezas, who also manages education at Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. “It is not going to affect our class size.”

Gibson said similar RIF notices went out to education employees at Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base.

The deadline has passed for employees to consider the options. Human resources officials will determine whether an employee is eligible. If an employees’s offer is accepted, a formal offer will be presented.

“If they decide to take it, then they drop off the RIF list and theoretically leave the position available for someone else,” Gibson said.

To reduce costs, Gibson said officials also have been under a hiring freeze for roughly a year.

“We have filled positions temporarily so we could preserve potential positions,” she said.

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