School system makes plans for 50 positions paid for by CARES money

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

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The Troup County School System is putting its “reduction in force” policy into action as funding provided during COVID-19 comes to a halt.

During COVID, TCSS — and all other public school districts — received three sets of federal stimulus funding. TCSS received $29.1 million in ESSER III, more commonly referred to as the American Rescue Plan, and it was required that 20% of that funding be used to address learning loss from the pandemic.

TCSS hired 50 positions using that funding, including positions like nurses, social workers and interventionists. However, the funding will end on Sept. 30, 2024, and the school system is going through the process of alerting employees that their positions are being eliminated. The salary of 15 of the 50 impacted employees will be moved from ESSER funded to the school system’s general fund, according to the RIF document discussed at the board meeting.

Superintendent Brian Shumate said the intention is to rehire the remaining 35 employees in positions they are qualified for, and they will be given priority during the transfer process.

“All of these folks should land back into the district,” Shumate said at Friday’s special called board meeting. “We have plenty of spots for them to go to, so it’s not like somebody is losing their job, but there’s a process we have to go through because the funding source is being eliminated.”

Shumate said the employees in those positions knew from the beginning that the job was funded by grant money that would run out down the road.

He said the school system hires 100 to 120 teachers a year. Some of the affected employees were certified teachers and could move back into a teaching position.

“We employed 50 people with CARES money in the name of learning loss,” Shumate said. “They’ve done great work, and we really appreciate their service in this capacity. They did understand when they took these jobs that the funding would eventually run out. And that time is coming. According to our policy, when funding for positions that were categorically funded run out, we need to do the RIF policy that reduction in force policy, and our hope is to bring them all back in a similar capacity as we move forward.”

• In other action at Friday’s special called meeting, THINC College and Career Academy Principal Jennifer Pike is adding the title of district-wide CTAE (Career, Technical and Agriculture Education) coordinator to her position of principal. Pike will remain the principal at THINC, but her pay will be increased to be that of a high school principal as opposed to a middle school principal. Pike will be working with the three base high schools and will manage the Carl Perkins Grant for the school system.