Moss Point teachers learn their fate

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - More than 30 laid off teachers in Moss Point have been called back to the classroom. Last month, the school district sent out non-renewal slips to several educators because of job performance and big cutbacks.

At a school board meeting Tuesday night talks continued about the budget woes.

Moss Point School Board President Clifton Magee said several teachers who were worrying if they will have a job next year got some good news.

"We have brought back 34 people so far," Magee said.

More than 100 teachers were said to have received letters saying they were going to be laid off, but according to Magee, the superintendent sent out 89 non-renewals.

"Sot hat basically leaves us with somewhere around 55 people that still have not been renewed."

Magee said as of now, any teacher who received a non-renewal due to job performance will not be returning to the district.  The district is also looking at cutting other faculty and staff members to help the budget.

"We don't want to hurt anyone's income, and when you start looking at lives and jobs you definitely don't want to hurt any family out there. But we run the district; we have function, so we have to cut where we have to cut."

The district is saving more than $300,000 by terminating teachers, but Magee said the budget is still over by half a million dollars.  According to Magee, the state is now taking away more money.

"When the Governor signed the paperwork we were shorted. I am not going to say shorted, cut the funding to the school district by at least $900,000."

As the district continues trim the budget and reduce the staff, the school board president said the main goal now is to not shortchange the kids in the classroom.

"Yes, we care about the kids and that is what the district is about", Magee said. "We are looking at our student teacher ratio at somewhere around 1 to 26. I think the maximum is somewhere around 30 to 32 and we are not going over the maximum."

The superintendent and school principals chose which teachers received non-renewals letters as well as who would return to the classroom. Magee explains the plan is to hopefully bring back more teachers if the budget allows them to do so in the near future.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, The Jackson County Interdenominational Minister Alliance showed up to fight for Superintendent Kim Staley to keep his job.

At the beginning of the year, the school board voted not to renew Staley's contract. The ministers disagreed with the vote, and they have been pushing for Staley to keep his position and help resurrect the district.

In April, the group requested that the board answers four questions about Staley's annual reviews and job performance. But the ministers said while they were told they would get a response in 10 days, that never happened and they're disappointed.

Pastor Larry Hawkins said, "It is important to not only stand up for Staley, but that we stand up for education. We are pro-education and we're concerned for our students who are our parishioners. We are just looking at the scheme of what Moss Point is going through right now, and we feel the Superintendent is a key player in the survival of the school district."

School Board President said Staley is planning to appeal the decision, so the board can't give out information until after the hearing. The appeal date is May 23, 2011.

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