TCSS specifies eliminated positions in $2.2 million cuts

Published 9:41 pm Thursday, April 16, 2020

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The Troup County School System has identified 49.48 positions to eliminate, which would be equal to about $2.2 million in saving through its reduction in force policy.

According to TCSS Human Resource Officer Chip Medders, the goal is to reassign as many people as possible to another position within the district that they are qualified for. Anyone affected by the district’s reduction in force policy has been notified in person, Medders said.

“If we can find a position for those people who are qualified, we are reassigning those people to a vacated position,” he said. “Those conversations are ongoing, but it’s a fluid situation.”

Medders said the 49.48 number isn’t based on actual employees but the number of hours each position represents. Some employees are part-time, meaning they are counted as 49 percent.

Not every position eliminated by the school means an employee. Medders said several of the jobs listed in the reduction in force are positions the school system already knew were going to be vacant. There are positions where someone has notified the school they are retiring or resigning, and the district can realize savings by not filling the position.

Medders said the district does have plans to add back a few positions such as a couple of special education teachers, two orchestra positions and an administrator and clerical employee for the Troup County Career Center. Medders said the district would also like to add a cosmetology instructor for LaGrange High School, which has been a popular request among students and a possible risk management workmen’s compensation position to the central office.

The bulk of the cuts are within the district’s central office, or the Administrative Services Center, and just more than 1 percent of reductions were made inside the schools.

Medders said 10.56 of the cuts were made at the central office. District operations would realize 3.94 percent and 1.16 percent of the cuts are school-based.

“The majority of the reductions are going to be at ASC, and the smallest amount of reductions are going to be school-based,” he said.

The cuts, according to Medders, are as follows:

  • 1.5 elementary school assistant principals
  • 3 middle school graduation coaches
  • 1 part-time READ 180 coach
  • 1 secondary curriculum coordinator
  • 1 system-wide instructional supervisor
  • 1 assistant principal at the alternative school
  • 1 technology coordinator
  • 1 technical support specialist
  • 1 part-time administrative assistant technology employee
  • 1 central office pre-K clerical employee
  • 1 central office clerical employee in assessment
  • 1 assistant transportation director
  • 1 bus mechanic
  • 9 bus monitors
  • 1 energy specialist
  • 8 K5 media paraprofessionals
  • 1 transportation clerical employee
  • 5 bus drivers
  • 1 elementary clerical employee
  • 1 school resource specialist at the alternative school.

Medders said nine K5 classroom teaching positions are also going to be eliminated. However, no actual no teachers at TCSS were told they were losing their job. The positions being eliminated were already vacant or will be vacant next year.

“All of those positions are going to be eliminated through attrition,” he said.

TCSS Chairman Kirk Hancock said the board was impressed by the way the process was handled. He said the communication to those employees had to be done in person and during a time when face-to-face meetings are discouraged due to COVID-19.

“The way the staff pivoted to do it professionally and sensitively because it’s nothing anyone wanted to do,” he said.

Hancock said the school board doesn’t have a hand in making personnel decisions but did place a challenge in front of TCSS Superintendent Brian Shumate when he was hired to close the budget gap.

“That was the main driver — to get back to a zero-based budget, or a balanced budget,” he said. “That process has been turned over to the superintendent and his staff to allocate those resources.”

Shumate reiterated many times that the district would do everything it can to reassign the affected employees. However, the school system will have to get leaner and learn to function differently, he said.

“We care about people. We want people to continue to have jobs,” Shumate said. “We’ve got to get more efficient. And I think the more streamlined and tighter we get, the better results we will get.”

Those individuals affected by the reduction in force are not out of the job immediately. Medders said the district will attempt to find another position for employees up to May 22. If they haven’t found a new position by then, those employees will have to reapply for any available vacant jobs posted.

Medders said some employees will continue to be paid until the new fiscal year, which starts on July 1.