The Little Rock School District laid off 17 employees this week, and more are in the pipeline. 

Though shocking for the employees affected, the layoffs have been expected for months.

“LRSD has been discussing the fact that the district would need to make budget cuts to address a $15 million dollar reduction since October 2023,” district spokesperson Pamela Smith told us. “The district collected input via surveys and followed up with multiple community meetings at locations throughout the city.”

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Declining enrollment districtwide, high construction costs and elevated interest rates on debt payments were cited as the reason for the shortfall.

Smith would not release the position titles of those that were laid off this week because “the notification process has not been completed yet.”

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A document she provided said the Little Rock School Board was given a list at its January meeting.

“Right now, only employees in the district office position reductions category have been identified and notified,” she said, adding that all of those who received a termination letter first had a conversation with either their direct supervisor or a human resources representative.

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There were 28 positions in total that were impacted this time: 17 were marked for elimination while 10 were identified for repurposing and one new position was proposed.

The board will be given a list of another 15-20 at-risk positions at its Feb. 22 meeting to reduce the deficit by another $2 million. School leadership and school leadership support will be impacted that time. Impacted employees will be notified in March.

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After that round, 15-20 teacher, paraprofessionals and secretarial positions will be cut.

About 80% of the efforts to reduce the district’s budget by $15 million will come from personnel cuts and 10% to 20% will come from programs, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Cynthia Howell reported in December.

The plan to address the reduction is being executed in phases, Smith said. Here is the district’s plan.

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When it’s all said and done, 41 to 51 school-based positions are expected to be cut, which averages out to about 1.8% of the district’s 2,781 employees.

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