GREENSBURG - The St. Helena School Board gave new Superintendent Kelli Joseph her first major victory Thursday, voting to replace four senior administrators and remove the lone elementary school’s principal.
Curriculum Supervisor Nedra Payne, Supervisor of Transportation/Child Welfare Vereta Lee and Title I Supervisor Inez Jackson will be given 120 days notice and moved to other assignments immediately, Joseph said.
Their contracts run through June 30, but require 120 days notice that they will not be renewed, Joseph said.
Supervisor of Special Education Rena Claiborne will work through the end of her contract in February, Joseph said.
Elementary Principal Arlene Kennedy will be moved to another position within the school system until her contract expires in February, Joseph said.
The cuts are part of a reorganization plan Joseph presented to the board Thursday night.
“We need to balance the budget and that is what I am proposing,” she said. “The cuts stay as far away from the classroom as possible.”
The system will advertise for four supervisor positions with new titles and responsibilities, but reduced salaries, Joseph said.
Payne said she had just found out about the move Wednesday.
“She (Joseph) never met with me, not once, to know what my contribution to the system was,” Payne said. “I do think it’s personal.”
Payne said Joseph should have studied the dynamics in the community before making drastic moves.
Jackson said she was shocked to hear that her contract was not being renewed.
“I was going to retire anyway,” she said.
Joseph also announced plans to make cuts to the district’s transportation costs by eliminating leased buses, altering routes if necessary and perhaps staggering school times.
The meeting was punctuated by several questions from local minister Carolyn Habersham, who repeatedly questioned School Board President Edward “Scott” Galmon and Joseph on the rationale for the cuts and the plan to handle the responsibilities of departed personnel.
“The superintendent is our educational leader, and we are going to get on this train which has already left the station,” Galmon said after being challenged by Habersham and threatening to have her removed from the room.
Joseph’s plan, part of which she presented to the board Thursday night, will save the school system $682,000 during the coming school year, according to documents she presented.
The savings will come from reducing operating costs and savings in the Transportation Department, Joseph said.
The School Board has until August to come up with a plan to restore fiscal health or face action from the state’s Fiscal Review Committee, made up of the attorney general, state treasurer, and Office of the Legislative Auditor.
The committee has already granted the district two 90-day extensions to the original February deadline.