HCPS faces reduction in force

Published 10:06 am Thursday, May 7, 2009

WINTON – With student enrollment declining, Hertford County Public Schools is faced with another reduction – its workforce.

On Tuesday, HCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Basham confirmed that the system has invoked its Reduction in Force policy, meaning fewer students are in need of fewer classroom teachers.

Citing the 2009-10 projected ADM (Average Daily Membership) figures, Dr. Basham said HCPS would lose 113 students over the current school enrollment. He said at present, HCPS lists an ADM of 3,286 pupils, a number that the state translates into 154.5 classroom teachers needed to educate that student body. The projected ADM for 2009-10 is 3,173 students, or 148.5 teachers.

This continues a downward trend for HCPS. During the 2007-08 school year, the system’s ADM stood at 3,437 students. Based on those numbers, 161.5 teachers were needed.

“As you can see, we’re down 264 students from where we were just two years ago,” Dr. Basham stated. “And, as you know, the state funding we receive is based primarily on the number of students we educate. If those numbers decline, so does our state funding.”

However, declining student enrollment is not Dr. Basham’s only worry.

“These projections only bring us in line with the ADM numbers; we, as are all public school systems, face possible cutbacks as the state prepares its budget for the upcoming new fiscal year,” he noted.

Those cutbacks may range as low as three percent or as high as seven percent.

Then, as Dr. Basham observed, there is uncertainty over other pots of state money, namely from the Title 1 and Title 6 programs as well as the Governor’s Stabilization Fund.

“We don’t know what the state is going to do; it’s scary just thinking about it right now,” he said.

On top of that is a proposal by Gov. Bev Perdue, as she attempts to fill a projected $3.2 billion budget shortfall, that will cut the annual salaries of all state employees, including teachers, by one-half of one percent.

“The state is putting a lot on our plate right now,” Dr. Basham said.

As far as the reduction in force policy as well as the possible cutbacks in the 2009-10 state budget, Dr. Basham said faculty resignations/retirements may help with those issues.

“But we’re still in limbo on this for the simple reason that we’re unsure of exact percentage of those cuts,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Monday’s budget message from Hertford County Manager Loria Williams was received well by Dr. Basham. In that message, Williams said HCPS would receive current level funding in the county’s proposed 2009-10 budget.

“That was very good news,” Dr. Basham concluded. “We are very appreciative of the local funding we receive from Hertford County.”