LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish teachers and school administrators will have to wait until late next week, after the School Board signs off on a reduction in force plan, to find out if they’ve been impacted by the board’s decision to cut expenses through layoffs.
“We’re working to be as fair and equitable to everyone involved especially at this time of year,” said Bruce Leininger, the school system’s human resources director.
Employees identified for layoffs will be notified after the board’s Dec. 17 meeting and will then have 10 days to file an appeal with the school system.
The last day at work for those laid off will be Jan. 6.
The School Board voted 8-1 late Monday to implement its reduction in force policy after taking a separate 7-2 vote in the same meeting to cut about 40 positions, including 16.5 teachers and 11 assistant principals. The board also authorized about $5.3 million in budget revisions to save more than 70 other jobs.
The positions had been filled for this school year based on the school system’s operations at 50 percent of last year’s budget since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1. That was done in the absence of an adopted budget for 2014-15.
The board adopted a 2014-15 spending plan on Sept. 15 but former Superintendent Pat Cooper, who was fired last month, refused to implement it. He cited concerns about the impact the board-approved cuts to the budget would have on schools and claimed the board hadn’t followed the requirement of state law in the preparation and adoption process.
Leininger said Tuesday that his staff is working to identify employees who may be impacted by the layoffs, which takes a review of employees’ job evaluations and their qualifications.
Because there are fewer assistant principals than teachers employed in the school system, staff is nearly complete with that part of the review, he said.
Leininger said the administrative cut eliminates extra assistant principal positions that were allocated to some schools, but it doesn’t mean assistant principals at those schools will be laid off. The decision depends on evaluations, the administrators’ credentials and whether that employee can be placed in a vacant position that fits his or her qualifications, he said.
“Once we’ve identified 11 of them in the order of least qualified by the criteria we’re able to use, we’ll look to see where we can place those 11 principals,” Leininger said.
Only 2.5 teacher assistants are impacted by the cut and it’s likely that positions will be found for those employees, he said. Four dean of students positions and a total of 16.5 teachers — 2.5 at N.P. Moss Preparatory Academy and 14 classroom teachers — were cut as part of the budget revision approved by the board Monday.
Prior to the board’s vote at Monday’s special meeting, board member Melinda Mangham, a retired teacher, questioned how teachers would be selected through a reduction in force. Due to changes in 2012 to a state law that altered how teachers receive and retain tenure or job protection, seniority no longer provides job security when a reduction in force is implemented.
Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau explained that the district would need to rank every teacher in the district based on their evaluations and certifications.
Leininger told the board on Monday that impacted administrators and teachers may qualify for 12 to 14 teaching vacancies or one of the positions filled by a teacher hired for a hard-to-fill position who is not certified in that instructional area.
“We’re looking to match teachers as closely as possible with needs and minimize disruptions to schools,” Leininger said.
The budget revision approved on Monday retained 18.5 teacher positions primarily at D and F schools in the district, as well as 41 teacher assistants who staff in-school suspension programs on campuses.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.