BAKER — Some teachers and staff have already been laid off as part of a plan to save the Baker School District $1.2 million, superintendent Herman Brister said after the school board meeting Tuesday night.
Brister, who replaced outgoing superintendent Ulysses Joseph on May 28, could not confirm how many employees of the Baker School District have received pink slips, but no tenured teachers have yet been let go.
“Principals have participated in the process. We are not arbitrarily cutting people,” he said.
Evaluations and performance were considered in deciding which teachers should not return for the 2015-16 school year, Brister said.
The School Board also voted unanimously to approve a reduction-in-force policy, allowing Brister to lay off tenured teachers.
“We hope we don’t have to use it,” he said.
Brister told the board that he wanted reduction-in-force approval because declining student enrollment and revenue may necessitate more cuts in the future.
At the June 16 School Board meeting, district finance director Sidney Stewart said belt-tightening is needed to offset recent decreases in state Minimum Foundation Program funds for the district. MFP money is based primarily on student enrollment, which has been declining in Baker in recent years.
The district received $9.3 million in MFP funds in 2014-15, down from $11 million in 2013-14.
In 2010-11, 1,912 students were enrolled in the five schools in the district. By 2014-15, that was down to 1,449 students.
The MFP supplies 65 percent of the district’s revenue, Stewart said.
The plan to save $1.2 million, which includes layoffs as well as expanding the duties of some administrative staff, might be enough to make further layoffs unnecessary, Brister said after Tuesday’s meeting. Approval to do a reduction in force simply allows the district to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, such as a decline in enrollment in 2015-16, he said.
His goal is to present a balanced budget to the board by August, he said.
The district has still not hired the two new administrators — a supervisor of student support services and an assistant superintendent of innovation and student achievement — approved by the board at the June 16 meeting. The assistant superintendent will make about $90,000 a year and the supervisor $70,000 a year.
Asked about hiring administrators while laying off teachers, Brister said a lot of work needs to be done at the higher levels in the district.
“My hands are going to be full bringing stability to programs and academics, regaining community support and selling the schools,” he said. “We need to show people that Baker schools are an option for their children.”