The Little Rock School District has begun notifying employees of job losses or duty changes that will be required next school year to reduce the budget by $8 to $10 million on account of declining enrollment. The notices included one erroneous notice of a job loss.
Superintendent Michael Poore confirmed to me this morning that a reduction of eight counseling positions is among as many as 100 job reductions or changes in the works. However, instead of sending notices to those eight yesterday, a ninth notice also was sent to a high school counselor who is NOT scheduled to lose his or her job. “It was 30 minutes of hell for the counselor before it was corrected,” Poore told me in a phone interview. The district is eliminating four elementary and four secondary counselors. All will be offered classroom jobs, he said.
Poore said it wasn’t clear yet how the error on one counselor had occurred, whether through human or computer error.
The job situation is much larger than the counselors. He said about 75 teaching jobs — 25 each at the elementary, middle and high school levels — are likely to be eliminated. It’s impossible to say yet how many will be accommodated by normal churn in staffing, with people moving and retiring or seeking different employment.
Additionally, up to eight “facilitators” of reading and math instruction will be eliminated. Again these employees will be offered other jobs. They oversee reading and math at multiple schools.
Poore said six assistant principal positions will be eliminated.
He said some $800,000 in central office jobs will be cut, but much of that has already been achieved by failure to fill openings. He hasn’t yet completed a review of the need for cuts in classified employees, such as in maintenance and other support staff.
Finally, significant changes are coming to reading specialists as an outgrowth of critical findings about the district’s work in the teaching of reading and help for dyslexic students. These changes affect more than 40 teachers. These jobs are going to be “redefined” Poore said. All have received notices that contract changes are likely, including a reduction in the number of working days in a contract, which would mean a reduction in pay.
Poore said the final job paring will be affected by a final budget figure. The cut will be less than $10 million, perhaps $8 million if the state is able to find a replacement for a federal grant intended for pre-K education that was lost.
The district cut its budget by more than $5 million last year because of declining enrollment as the state, which runs the district on account of a financial distress designation, continues to encourage the creation of more seats in publicly financed but privately run charter schools in the Little Rock District.