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School Board okays reduction in force plan

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education accepted a proposal that will cut a portion of funding for assistant principals and clerical staff in the 2017-2018 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies presented a Reduction in Force proposal to board members on Monday that would cut assistant principals employment to 10-10.5 months instead of 12 months. The proposal would also cut all clerical staff, except book keepers and data managers, to 10 months of employment.

Jefferies said the cuts were necessary due to a seven-year trend of declining enrollment, which have the school system facing significant fiscal challenges.

"We must bring expenditures in line with our allocations," Jefferies said.

Jefferies said the school system has been funding 12-month positions for all assistant principals when the allocation from the state only supports 10 to 10.5 months of employment.

Jefferies said he was proposing a two-year process to control assistant principal costs. Phase 1 would start during the next school year and would transition to a tiered approach with one 12-month and 11-month positions.

Phase 2 would begin in the 2018-2019 school year and would transition all elementary assistant principals to 10 month with tiers of 12, 11 and 10 months at secondary, depending on the size of the school.

Jefferies said the school system also has been funding 12 month positions for clerical staff though the state's allocation only supports 10 months of employment.

Jefferies said he recommended transitioning all clerical to 10 months effective in the 2017-2018 school year.

The changes reflect a $703,000 savings over the two years, Jefferies said.

Jefferies said the proposal was just the first step.

"This is the beginning of my recommendations," he said. "These recommendations will touch all levels of the organization."

Jefferies said it wasn't an easy decision to make but the ultimate goal was to protect the classrooms.

"I don't take this process lightly but this is to ensure the fiscal health of this district," he said. "Our focus and our intentionality is to protect the classroom. This affords us that option."

"This is a first step," Jefferies added.

Board members agreed it was not an easy step to take. But, Doneva Chavis-Battle said ultimately, people needed to look towards the state for answers.

"Express to our state legislators the importance of education in Nash-Rocky Mount," she said. "We do not have to go quietly into the night. Our children matter. "

One employee spoke out on the challenges she will face due to the cuts.

Elizabeth Mathieu, who has a clerical position, said the cuts will hurt her family and impact her ability to retire. Mathieu spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"This will include a loss of a month of employment," she said. "We would not work in July and not receive a check for July thereby eliminating our income for July."

Mathieu said though she understands the reasoning behind the cuts, she hoped the system could look at other options.

Board members unanimously approved the Reduction in Force policy as presented by Jefferies.

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