DRAFFENVILLE – Steady tightening of education funding and diminishing enrollment will result in the loss of approximately 11 teachers and three instructional assistants in Marshall County schools for the 2012-2013 academic year.
The Marshall County Board of Education approved the staffing allocation submitted by Ricky Jones, secondary supervisor/human resources, in last week’s meeting on Tuesday night.
Last year’s projected enrollment was 4,749 students.
“This year, the projected enrollment based on a Feb. 1 snapshot was 4,657 students,” Jones said. “So, it’s off a little bit.”
State caps on class size, ranging from 24 in primary grades to 31 in upper grades, determine the minimum number of teachers required.
“The second component of this is we’re running into some pretty bleak fiscal forecasts for the state,” Jones said.
“Given the fact that we have to make several of these personnel moves very soon, we felt it necessary to make a slight adjustment to our staffing allocation to make sure we were prepared as a district for that.”
Financial officer Jill Morris’ report echoed Jones’ comments.
“We are entering a difficult time economically,” Morris said. “In addition to the economic struggles that our state is having, our ADA [state funding based on the number of pupils reported in average daily attendance) has dropped quite a lot. We’re being funded the way that we ended last year. Then, at the end of this year, it does not appear it’s going to pick up.”
Jones explained the formula used to come up with the recommended reduction in staffing. Primary classes will be at the state cap, 24; grades 4-5 will be at 26, compared to state-mandated 28 for grad 4 and 29 for grade 5; and grades 6-12 will be at 27, compared to state caps of 29 for grade 6 and 31 for grades 7-12.
The class sizes represent an increase of one in comparison to the present year’s statistics.
Elementary schools will sustain approximately seven of the teacher cuts while another four will be lost at the high school.
The three middle schools’ faculty numbers will remain constant, Jones said, because their student population will remain stable, with an outgoing large eighth-grade group to be offset by a large incoming sixth-grade class.
Superintendent Trent Lovett noted that the economy is at fault in both the funding and enrollment shortfalls.
Student numbers are down, he said, because of unemployment.
“The majority of them had lost work and moved,” Lovett said of families whose children were no longer in the Marshall County school system.
Some of the attrition, Lovett said, will be absorbed by some anticipated retirements of teachers whose jobs simply will not be filled.
Unpleasant as the reduction in faculty is, it is necessary, he said.
“From a fiscal standpoint, if we’re going to be cut a million dollars, we can’t keep spending what we’re spending,” Lovett said. “The majority of our funds are spent on salaries.”
The cuts are part of an overall belt-tightening, the superintendent added.
“The last place you want to hit is where the students are,” he said. “We’re finding as many places as we can to trim corners before we have to delete staff.”
Jones told board members his recommendation is based on anticipated funding.
“If it turns out better than what we thought it was gonna be,” he said, “I hope I can come back to you and make an adjustment, because this is not something that I’m real proud to present to you and it’s not the thing that I would like to see us do.
“We’re not facing good economic pictures, so we feel like this is the best we can do under the circumstances.”