The Muscogee County School District is considering eliminating 21 paraprofessional positions from its budget for the next fiscal year.
The cuts are being considered due lower student enrollment and reduced funding and will be discussed at a school board work session tonight at 5 p.m. in the board room of the old Bradley Library. The paraprofessionals are classroom aides for teachers in grades kindergarten through third.
The budget for fiscal year 2010 does not support financing the jobs under other state and federal funding sources. The reduction in wages and benefits will total about $461,900.
Most of the job cuts will be absorbed through attrition, but up to six parapros could be laid off, if other employees do not retire or resign before May 27.
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The district will make the job cuts based on two criteria. Parapros who do not meet the “highly qualified” standard outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act will be considered for job cuts. To be considered highly qualified, a parapro must have at least an associate’s degree or two years of college education, or must have passed a state-approved paraprofessionals basic skills exam.
The district will also factor in seniority, so that the least senior, non-highly qualified paraprofessionals will be affected by the cuts.
All of the employees impacted will be offered job opportunities with the school district for available positions in food service, custodial work and other jobs for which they qualify.
The possibility of eliminating teachers’ aide jobs has been mentioned to the board before. When the district first began talking about state-mandated budget cuts in the September 2008, John Phillips — then the interim superintendent — said eliminating first-grade parapros in FY 2010 would save the district about $2.8 million in salaries and benefits. Those 147 jobs are not paid for by state funds.