School systems cutting, shifting teachers

HERNANDO and MADISON — DeSoto County Schools will eliminate 40 teaching positions through attrition and by not renewing contracts as part of a $17.7-million cost-cutting plan for next school year. And, Madison County plans to relocate teachers in an effort to prevent layoffs.

In addition to eliminating teaching positions, DeSoto County will cut salaries for administrators and for retirees who work for the district for reduced pay.

The cuts, announced yesterday, are the district’s answer to reduced state revenue because of a weak economy. Supt. Milton Kuykendall has been warning for months of cuts to the fiscal 2011 budget.

Kuydendall tells The Commercial Appeal that the cuts being absorbed by the district include a 10 percent reduction in funding from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, mandated but unfunded teacher pay raises of $1.5 million and $3 million in operating costs for three new schools set to open in the fall.

In Madison County, Superintendent Mike Kent says that even with the shifting of teachers, the likelihood exists that the district will have to let some teaching assistants go to reach a goal of saving $2.5 million in personnel costs in the coming year.

Kent tells The Clarion-Ledger that the school board originally planned to use attrition to eliminate 40 teaching positions and save $2 million, but the expected number of teachers leaving voluntarily is falling short of expectations.

The district also expected attrition to reduce the number of assistants by 24 to save an additional $500,000, but only three have given notice.

Kent said assistants likely will learn their fate from their principals within the next week.

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