Gates County Schools RIF

Published 7:26 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

GATESVILLE – Facing nearly a half-million dollars in state cuts as well as no added funding from the local level, Gates County Public Schools will reduce its staff as well as use other cost-saving measures to balance its budget for the new fiscal year, effective July 1.

However, one extremely popular program offered by GCPS – the New Beginnings Day Care – has been saved.

Last week, GCPS Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams announced the job elimination of one elementary school art teacher, one elementary school dance teacher, one CTE teacher, one high school science teacher, one finance officer, two part-time custodians, and one technology assistant.

“School districts across North Carolina are in the process of a reduction in force (RIF) due to the funding formula created by the state,” Dr. Williams said. “In recent years, federal funding for education has declined at the same time the state has increased the burden on local funding to support education.

“The state has currently reduced our funding approximately $455,000,” Williams added. “This creates the most severe impact on counties like GatesCounty that have suffered disproportionately from the economic downturn. Living in the Northeastern part of the state, we are considered a low wealth region. We do not underestimate the fiscal difficulties associated with our county’s substantial and prolonged economic downturn, and we are grateful to the Board of Commissioners for maintaining level funding.  The county funding just isn’t there. I honestly believe the county would provide funding for our students if it was available.”

Williams continued, “What the state legislators do not understand are layoffs create the potential for low morale, productivity, and loyalty in the workplace among the employees who are left after the reduction in force. Adequate planning and preparation through attorney assistance is critical and necessary.”

On May 12, Dr. Williams received the Gates County School Board’s determination that a fiscal exigency exists or can be projected and/or that a program change can be projected.  The Board determined that such exigency/change necessitates the Superintendent to recommend to the Board which individuals are to be dismissed, demoted or reduced to part-time employment, based on the criteria set forth in Board policies 7920 and 7921.

In addition to the aforementioned eliminations of positions, the RIF also includes other cost-saving measures, to include a hiring freeze that impacts a middle school reading coach, and a middle school art teacher. Additionally, one assistant principal position will be reduced from 12 to 10 months of employment; a reduction has been placed on district-wide travel; the annual stipend for the Athletic Director is impacted; and there will be a consolidation of the band programs at Central Middle School and Gates County High School.

Despite the bad news, Williams did have some good news to share, highlighted by the fact that New Beginnings Day Care will remain open, and that due to financial assistance from the county, the two Resource Officers assigned to GCPS by the Gates County Sheriff’s Office, will remain.

“The Day Care Center will continue to remain active on the campus of Gatesville Elementary School with stricter controls over administration, staffing and participant requirements,” Williams said. “Dr. Paula Simpson, Director of School Nutrition Services, will assist the Day Care manager with identifying guidelines, protocol, and procedures to strengthen the fiscal success of this program. The program will be required to present a financial report at the monthly scheduled school board meetings as well as other reports to the Gates County Board of Education.”

Dr. Williams said the focus of GCPS will continue to be resourceful as they strive to provide a quality education to all children of Gates County.

“The shortfalls we face are especially problematic because adequate funding is essential to supporting children with special needs and students with elevated risk of academic failure. The dedicated employees of Gates County Schools are committed to using the resources provided to our school district wisely and effectively in order to provide the highest quality educational services possible,” Williams noted.

“Currently we are still waiting on the Senate and House to finalize the state budget. Any reduction in force is not positive news, however it is accurate information. We will continue to work through these difficult times and remain focused on our primary mission, educating our children to be successful,” he concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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