Tremont school stays open; positions cut countywide in Itawamba

By Gaynell Jackson/The Itawamba County Times

Itawamba County School Board members ended months of controversy Monday night as they finally put budget cuts for FY 2010-2011 to a vote. The outcome affects every school in the county.

“At this time, there will be no cut in any grades in the county,” said board chairman Eddie Hood. “Of the choices we were offered, we chose Reduction in Force (RIF) which will allow us to come within budget guidelines. The RIF list will cover the 2010-2011 school year. We hope we will have additional funding by next year.”

All school personnel will be notified within 10 days following the governor’s signing of the budget (which is anticipated today, Wednesday) whether or not they will have employment with the Itawamba County school system in the coming year. As many as 22 certified and 25 non-certified personnel could be receiving RIF letters; the list was approved during Monday night’s meeting.

But Tremont supporters still saw victory and offered a round of applause in reaction to the board’s decision, knowing that one option had been to close grades nine through 12 at Tremont school. The announcement was what they had been fighting for – to keep Tremont school, all grades K-12, open.

Earlier in the meeting, Kerry Peden, Tremont PTO spokesman, had presented five reasons his group opposed the closing of any part of Tremont school. Among those reasons were their beliefs that the budget shortfall was only temporary and should not be solved by a permanent solution.

“I believe the board needs to conduct a management and efficiency review, during which every facility would undergo a complete assessment, from the highest to the lowest level,” Peden said. “In our opinion, it would doing more harm than good to close our school. You, as a board, have an obligation to the people to operate the schools as best you can and providing the public with a complete assessment will be an important part of this.”

Peden was complimentary of the entire school district, reminding everyone that the Itawamba County School District is operated with one of the lowest costs to taxpayers of any district in the state.

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