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Athens Superintendent Will Not Recommend Staff Cuts

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Two days before a scheduled school board meeting in which Athens City Schools Superintendent Tom Gibbs was set to discuss staffing cuts, he told parents and community members this would not be the case.

In an email responding to community members with “a particular interest in the district’s current budget challenges,” Gibbs said new resignations and additional revenue from “unexpected delinquent tax settlements” have added to the budget.

“As a result, I will not be making a recommendation to the Board of Education for a reduction in force for the 2016-2017 school year,” Gibbs wrote.

Gibbs said because no recommendation of a reduction in force would be made, he expected Thursday’s meeting to be a “‘typical’ meeting in which end-of-the-year business is resolved.”

But included in the announcement was a list of recommendations Gibbs is planning to make to the board to address “financial challenges moving forward.”

These include continuing to “make adjustments in staffing through attrition,” and a possible reduction in force in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the document provided by Gibbs.

For the 2016-2017 school year, a summary of teacher adjustments stated that special education teaching positions at Athens High School and West Elementary School would not be filled after the retirement of the current teachers. The special education teaching position at Eastern Elementary, also vacated by a retirement, will be filled through a transfer from Athens Middle School, but the vacated middle school position will not be filled, according to the summary.

Positions vacated in Morrison-Gordon’s sixth grade, kindergarten and fifth grade positions at West Elementary, kindergarten and first grade positions at The Plains, and both a science position and industrial arts position at Athens Middle School will not be filled.

An opening at Athens High School and the creation of a new special education teaching position at The Plains Elementary will be filled.

Also recommended was consideration of levy options, including a levy for additional revenue, which Gibbs said would have to be passed by November 2016.

In the board agenda draft for Thursday’s meeting, a “placeholder for resolution of necessity for renewing the emergency levy” is included, an emergency levy that Gibbs said would not bring in additional funds for the district.

“If passed, it would assist in maintaining our current level of funding,” Gibbs wrote in the email.

The superintendent plans to have July or August meetings specifically relating to facilities master planning and “financial structure” in the future.

He said the board will develop “a timetable for future meetings to allow for more public input and question/answer sessions.”

Read the agenda for Thursday’s meeting here: May 26 2016 Regular Board Meeting_DRAFT

Read the summary of the teacher adjustments here: ACSD 16-17_Teaching__Position_Adjustments

Read Gibbs’ recommendations to the Board of Education here: Recommendations_to_BOE_May_2016