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Jobs may be axed in Kannapolis schools

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Kannapolis City Schools are planning to eliminate jobs to help fill a estimated $2.1 million budget shortfall.
During a Board of Education budget work session Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said the school system is anticipating a 10 percent funding cliff due to proposed state cuts.
ěWe know positions have to be cut, there is no choice,î board chairwoman Danita Rickard said.
Annie Laura Pickett, the school systemís personnel administrator, said the number of employees is uncertain, but she did provide some raw figures.
About 42 percent of administrators, both school-based and in the central office, could be affected.
Fourteen of the 33 administrators could either lose their jobs or face reduced pay from new schedules.
ěThe reductions that weíre considering could be either months or hours, depending on the job,î Ellen Boyd, director of community relations, said. ěIn some cases, the reductions would involve reducing the number of hours worked each day, in other cases it would be a reduction of months during the year.î
Twenty-three of 434 teaching positions, or 5.3 percent, are on the line.
Noncertified personnel, which includes teacher assistants and clerical support, would take about a 10 percent cut with the elimination of 33 jobs.
Noncertified staff is also expected to see reductions of 26.1 percents, affecting 85 employees.
ěWe have tried to minimize the effects on the classroom as much as we possibly could,î Pickett said.
This is the first time since the school system began recessionary spending that jobs will be eliminated.
ěThe last two years weíve cut virtually everything we could except personnel,î Pickett said.
Will Crabtree, director of business operations, said the school system has slashed expenses by reducing instructional supplies and staff development. Now officials are looking at contract services.
Cain said she knows the news of job cuts might come as a surprise to some because the governorís proposal saves teachers and teacher assistant jobs. ěWeíre talking about Kannapolis City Schools and 80 percent of our expense is personnel,î she said.
Gov. Perdueís proposed budget could shift workers compensation claims, tort claims and bus replacement costs to local school systems, which means costs would have to be cut elsewhere, Cain said.
Cain said when considering cuts, sheís taken a look at ěevery job in every areaî of the district and relied on the districtís reduction in force policy.
The policy cites things such as performance ratings, program enrollment and length of service as factors to be considered in reduction of force.
Cain said those factors were used to receive recommendations from principals.
ěThis superintendent did not make any of these decisions in a solo fashion,î she said. ěItís been work of a team.
ěWeíve spent the last five months preparing for this budget.î
The school board will receive a list of proposed positions to cut during the April 11 meeting.
During a special meeting on April 28, the board will receive a list of specific staff members to be eliminated.
The board will make the final decision about cuts.
Cain said all employees included on the reduction in force list will be notified of their termination in person, rather than by certified mail or a hand-delivered letter.
ěNot only have you approached this in a pragmatic way, but youíve shown a lot of empathy in dealing with positions that will eventually have names,î board member Charles Mitchell said.
Crabtree said employees who are laid off will be eligible for unemployment and health insurance for one year.
Cain said all employees will be eligible for re-employment by the district if funding becomes available.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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