Job cuts loom for Prentiss County teachers

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Teachers in the Prentiss County School District were put on notice Monday that a number of teacher contracts will not be renewed for the 2010-2011 school year.
One proposal presented by board President Rickie Davis suggested that eliminating 15 teachers could save the county about $660,000.
However, Davis said he did not know where the district could absorb teacher cuts, and asked curriculum coordinator Nancy Johnson to research and provide the information to the board at its March 1 meeting.
The district must deal with the reality of the drastic budget cuts the school district endured this year, and additional ones the state Department of Education has forecast for next year, Davis said.
He invited school district business manager Sandy Johnson to present information to the board about the district’s current financial status.
“There are concerns about the current budget and the budget for next year,” Sandy Johnson said.
Although the reserve fund balance remains the same as it was at the start of the 2009-2010 school year – about $1.4 million – she said the district must begin planning where it can cut back to be able to weather anticipated future cuts.
The district’s state funding was cut by about $582,000 in September 2009 and an additional $372,000 in January 2010, a reduction of about 8.65 percent of its allocated funding.
“We’ve been told that it’s possible there will be an additional 2 percent cut before June,” Sandy Johnson said. “This is very serious.”
The largest percentage of the district’s budget is personnel, and Davis said discussions of reductions in force for teachers must begin immediately since contract letters must go out by April 15.
Board members agreed that the matter could not wait for the appointment of an interim superintendent, and Acting Superintendent Todd Swinney should begin discussions with teachers and administrators immediately.
Swinney was appointed acting superintendent upon the resignation last week of Matt Smith, who accepted a job as Kossuth High School principal in Alcorn County.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.