Job Cuts Part of School System Budget Cuts

The county's school superintendent says job cuts are needed to balance the budget. Those affected say they were caught by surprise.

A tense school board meeting Monday evening had standing room only. Among the crowd were non-instructional personnel with Jefferson County Schools, hoping to hear their jobs will be saved.

Phil Barker, the superintendent of Jefferson County schools, says, "It's disappointing for the school board members and the community when you have to cut like this. It's a hard thing to do. We have to do it in order to maintain a balanced budget. It’s unfortunate but it needs to be done."

Barker says the cuts will be across the board from the schools to the district office. School board members will be excluded from the cuts.

The goal of the two year plan is saving $1.1 million.

Dessie Jones says, "It hurts to see people losing their jobs, because you're talking about folks who've been there many years, and this is all they know."

Dessie Jones has been with Monticello's Howard Middle School since 1988. She is among the non-instructional staff awaiting the bad news and offers advice for her co-workers who don't have a “plan B.”

Dessie says, "Go file for your unemployment, that's all I can say, and get all the state help you can get, because you've got to survive. The school is trying to survive and people are trying to survive."

The cutbacks are mainly due to declining student enrollment. Those laid off will receive notice between now and June 30th.

Superintendent Barker says during the 2006-2007 school year the board is looking at combining the county's middle and high schools to further save on personnel costs.