BAKER — Nine more teachers and staff have been laid off from the Baker School System, Superintendent Herman Brister Sr. announced Tuesday.
The new layoffs make a total of 20 employees let go since Brister took over as superintendent in May. Thirty-one vacant positions also have been eliminated.
The new layoffs include teachers from Baker Middle School, Park Ridge Academic Magnet, Bakerfield and the Baker Learning Alternative Program, which is housed on the Baker High School campus.
After Tuesday’s School Board meeting, Brister said he expects no more employees or positions to be eliminated during the 2015-16 school year.
In another anticipated cost-saving measure, Brister announced he will not reinstate the district maintenance department. The department and the position of maintenance supervisor were eliminated by former Superintendent Ulysses Joseph in April after Emmitt Whitfield, who had held the position, was arrested in the theft of at least $130,000 from the district using a credit card.
Putting small tasks in the hands of head custodians at each of the schools and requiring bigger projects to be approved and contracted out by the superintendent and his staff will save the district money, Brister said.
Since his hiring, Brister has pledged to balance the Baker School System’s budget. The office staff and the School Board will re-evaluate the budget in January and should have a better idea of how effective the cutbacks are at that time, he said.
The budget presented to the board in August projected $14.7 million in expenditures and $14.9 million in revenues for the 2015-16 school year. Last year, the district had $17.3 million in expenditures, far higher than the $14.5 million in revenues. The difference was made up by a surplus in the general fund.
Some of the district’s budget problems are due to declining enrollment. State Minimum Foundation Program funds, which are awarded based on student enrollment, supply 65 percent of the district’s revenue.
The district received $9.3 million in MFP funds in 2014-15, down from $11 million in 2013-14, largely due to declines in enrollment.
In 2010-11, some 1,912 students were enrolled in the five schools in the district. By 2014-15, only 1,449 students attended.
The 2015-16 budget was calculated with the expectation that enrollment in the current school year will remain the same as 2014-15.
Brister did not have the October enrollment figures at the meeting Tuesday night but said he expects them to be within 20 or 25 students of the projection in the budget.
The district also soon could receive a $462,000 grant for school improvement, Brister told the board.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote on Oct. 13 on whether to award the grant to the school district, he said.