Budget cuts could impact all 1,800 school district employees - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

'All 1,800 employees will suffer from budget cuts' warns school superintendent

Harrison County School Superintendent Henry Arledge Harrison County School Superintendent Henry Arledge
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - "Technology people, maintenance people, transportation people, those kinds of people would be cut," said Harrison County School Superintendent Henry Arledge Tuesday.

The superintendent of one of the largest school districts in Mississippi said he has avoided cutting salaries and positions this year. But that may change next year, if the district is forced to cut 15 percent from its budget.

"Eight-point-four million would be a 15 percent cut for us, of the money we received from the state of Mississippi.  So yes, that's a hard hit," said Arledge.

Arledge has already delivered the dire news to some of his employees.

"Principals of schools will lose 20 days of pay from their pay check for next year. Assistant principals might be moved to another position.  Lead teachers might be put back in the classroom," said Arledge.

Basically, he said every employee in the school district, 1,800 in all, will suffer from possible cuts, from administrators to bus drivers.  That could mean cutting work days or reducing supplemental pay for teachers and assistant teachers.

"Everybody takes a share of the burden and gets a salary reduced. Those employees that are working more than 187 days will be affected significantly," said Arledge.

About 20 others jobs may be in jeopardy. The superintendent is considering eliminating five or six school resource officers, the district's safety officer, and extra maintenance crews. And by mid-April, he'll let his teachers know if their pay or positions will be cut.

"Positions in the central office, I guess you could say, be eliminated.  So that has a lot of effect on what happens in the classroom. I'm afraid that morale will be a factor," said Arledge.

Another problem could be more students in the classroom.  Arledge said he's just trying to make the tough decisions without hurting students.

"The bottom line to the whole thing is we still got to teach children," he said. "I'm not putting out blame. I'm just trying to get the problem solved."

Arledge said other ways to save money include asking job applicants to pay the $36 fee for their background checks and eliminating the "Jobs for Mississippi Graduates Program."  He added that there are predictions the financial crisis for Mississippi schools could get worse in 2011 and 2012.

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